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2018-04-26T07:48:34.046Z
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If you keep finding yourself frustratingly short of hitting one or two of your macros at the end of the day, this guide will teach you how to fix that.

The implicit assumption I’m making is that you understand the benefits of focusing on macro targets, have calculated your macros, learned how to count and make meals out of them, but keep struggling to find a balance at the end of some days.

If this is you, rest assured that this is something that everyone experiences at some point. In this quick guide, I’ll teach you how to fill in the gaps quickly, easily, and with foods you enjoy.

Balancing Foods

“Balancing foods” is a phrase I made up to describe food choices made with the primary focus being to help us hit our macro targets by the end of the day should our meals fall short. Taste, while important, is a secondary consideration to convenience for most people.

As I said in my guide to making meals out of macros, the majority of people will find success easiest when they build 10-12 meals that they enjoy and fit their macros, then just eat the same meals over and over again. Yes, variety is marginally constrained, but the alternative – feeling like you’re on a macro hunt all day every day – is exhausting and unsustainable.

Once you have done that, there are two situations which commonly occur and cause people trouble:

  1. You’ve crafted the near perfect meal set for a day, but find yourself either over or...

Here’s a little protein powder scam that few people know about: supplement manufacturers dumping cheap ingredients into their powders so that they can pass tests to claim a higher protein content than they truly have.

Scandalous, right? Well, that’s the supplement industry for you. Here’s how it happens and what to look out for on labels so that you avoid getting scammed.


What is Protein Powder Spiking?

We gym bros like protein powder. It’s a quick, convenient, and cost-effective way to hit our daily protein targets.

Whey protein is not the cheapest, but it is popular due to the high BCAA content, particularly leucine, which is critical to the muscle building process.

Now, with consumers becoming wiser there is a rising demand for products that claim to have been lab tested, but this comes at a time of overall rising global demand (and thus prices). Consumers are becoming sensitive to these price increases and given a lack of general education about what they should be looking for on the packet, the incentives for companies to cut costs by cheating the system are all there, and many do.

I’m talking about the rise of the phenomenon known as ‘protein spiking.’

How Protein Spiking Works

Some labs test for the nitrogen content of protein powder rather than the amounts of the individual amino acids – the building blocks of protein.

Under normal circumstances, as every amino acid contains nitrogen, measuring the nitrogen content of a powder should indicate how much protein it contains. However, this assumes that the manufacturers are honest,...

Is it better to take Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) or whey protein when training fasted? Though the difference in outcome is likely small, it is exactly this kind of question that clients pay me to know and advise them on.

If you do your weight training fasted (in the morning without having eaten anything prior), it is advisable to take either a scoop of whey protein or BCAAs prior to training to minimize muscle breakdown.

Up until the end of last year, I recommended BCAA supplementation to clients who trained fasted. However, after a conversation with sports nutritionist and researcher Alan Aragon, I decided to change the recommendations I give to clients to favor whey instead.

This article explains my reasoning for this and the protocols I recommend for both the whey and BCAA supplementation.

Note: I have updated the BCAA energy values since the original publication. The article reflects these changes. I’ve added a note at the end explaining the reason why.


Why Whey Protein May be Better Than BCAAs When Training Fasted

Many of my clients are high achievers with demanding jobs. The majority choose to train early in the morning before the working day zaps their energy and motivation to train. They do not have any time to consume (and start to digest) a meal before training, which leaves them without any amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in circulation in their bloodstream to prevent muscle breakdown

This is where BCAA supplementation comes in as a recommendation. As the...

Many people have told me that they appreciate my objective, unbiased approach to exercise and nutrition.

I’m going to tell you right now, though, that I am not unbiased.

In fact, I’m very biased.

I’m biased towards science. As a scientist myself, I am, by default, very biased towards science, and for a good reason. Science represents the absolute best process to understand the world around us. I emphasize the word process because that’s what science is.

It’s not a collection of facts or beliefs. It’s a process of how we try to learn what’s true, or at least what is most likely to be true. It involves formulating ideas to describe why we’re observing something (known as formulating hypotheses) and then testing those ideas through data collection and experimentation (known as hypothesis testing). We reject ideas that our data and experiments don’t support, and we further explore the ideas that our data and experiments do support. 

Over time, through this scientific process, we develop a body of knowledge of what we consider to be true about the world around us.

In addition to a scientist, I’m a coach. As a coach, I want to get my clients the best results possible. But to do that, I need an understanding of what is true. In the world of exercise and nutrition, there’s a lot of bullshit out there… bullshit that will result in my clients NOT getting what they want and/or wasting their time and money. 

Thus, I turn to...

If looking like The Hulk, Wolverine, or Batman is your primary goal, then a training program with a bodybuilding focus is what you need.

If you have been struggling to grow, this program may help by giving some balance to your routine. Don’t make the mistake of training your chest, arms, and abs each day, neglecting the majority of the musculature in your body. To have a thick chest, you need to have a well developed back. To have big legs, you need to train your hamstrings. To have shredded abs, you need to have enough muscle mass to make getting lean worth it.

In this article, I introduce the sample Novice Bodybuilding Program from our book, though with abbreviated instructions so as not to overwhelm. I’ll show you how to choose exercises and adjust things for the areas where you are more advanced. 

My advice is to resist the urge to skip straight to the Intermediate Bodybuilding Program just because you have been training for a while. Read through to consider whether this is more appropriate first. The less training experience you have, the faster gains you will make. You don’t need nearly as much work to make gains when you are a novice so enjoy this while it lasts.


The Novice Bodybuilding Sample Program Overview Why We Built It This Way

The Novice Bodybuilding Program, unlike the Novice Powerlifting Program, is a four-day program. It has more exercises to...

If getting strong as hell is your primary goal, knowing that size and symmetry will mostly come along for the ride anyway, then you need a strength training program that will emphasize that for you. 

This Novice Powerlifting Program taken from our Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid book is a three or four-day program built around developing skill and strength with the competition lifts, while also developing a base of muscularity to aid further strength development.


The Novice Powerlifting Sample Program Overview How To Use The Program You will see a 3-day and 4-day option to choose from. Training volume is the same in both versions. If you have no issue with the cumulative fatigue of performing the main lifts first and don’t mind dedicating more time to longer training sessions, go with the three-day version. If you would prefer shorter training sessions but one more session per week or find that the fatigue of the main lifts is detrimental to your accessory work, choose the four-day option. Exercise Selection Guidelines Skill development is more important to a powerlifter than a bodybuilder, so the variety of exercises used is fewer by comparison. Sometimes you will have options and in that case I have added little buttons like this which you can click to see them→1. I’ve included links to tutorials on the exercises where I thought this might be particularly useful. Choose movements you enjoy, that...

Do you know what I think when I see a guy who has a body carved out of granite like the guy above? That man has discipline. There is an immediate feeling of respect.

Plenty of guys have muscle, but very few have the abs that they want. We are so desperate to shirk responsibility for this that we allow the charlatans of the fitness industry to kid us we are missing some supplement, ‘bio hack,’ or trendy new training method.

It’s bullshit, and deep down we know it.

  • It takes discipline to go consistently to bed earlier so you can train in the morning without being sleep deprived.
  • It takes discipline to say no to ‘one more’ drink with the boys.
  • It takes discipline to seek out a gym so you can squeeze in a session when you are away from home.
  • It takes discipline to cook more than you eat out so you can fuel your body with what it needs.

Anyone can train hard and eat right for a short while, but where we go wrong is failing to follow through on these actions consistently enough.

But do you know what makes this discipline easier? Defining a deep and powerful reason for why you are chasing your goal in the first place.

This is the one thing that sticks out among the hundreds of people I have worked with that were most successful. Sure, knowing that they need to check in every two weeks helped keep them accountable, but this isn’t the army, I couldn’t force them to do anything. That...

I want you to imagine it is the end of March. 

In January you committed to taking care of yourself better. You dusted off your gym membership and spent the last three months hitting the gym every morning. But you have just quit like two-thirds of the other January returnees.

The frustration with seeing a lack of results and the creep of work responsibility and family commitment has eroded your resolve.

There are two main reasons this happens which I want you to avoid.

The first critical mistake people make is that people try to gauge their progress based on scale weight.

The problem is that this will only tell you about weight change, not any fat or muscle mass changes.

A pattern many people find themselves in is that at the same time they (re)start going to the gym, they make an effort to clean up their diets. People reduce their carbohydrate intake, which often causes 2-3 kg of weight loss in the first couple of weeks, which they think is fat but is just the water that attaches itself to carbs when stored as fuel. At the same time, the muscle from your youth is reactivated, muscle is re-grown, and progress appears to slow dramatically because you’re only gauging it based on scale weight.

My advice is simple: track both your scale weight and take stomach measurements. Your weight will fluctuate daily due to water and gut content changes, so weigh yourself each morning upon waking and average it at the...

Dr. Brad Schoenfeld is a prolific research machine and an absolute asset to the lifting community.  I’m ecstatic to have been able to steal an hour of his time to have him answer reader questions.

The key topics we covered are considerations for older lifters, hypertrophy mechanisms, training splits, the value of mind-muscle connection, and how to tell if you are training too much or too little.

3 Key Points

  1. Research should be used as a guideline and not as a clear answer for all people.
  2. Research should not be looked at as individual studies to prove a point and you should be suspicious when it is used this way by others.
  3. There is no magic hypertrophy rep range and periodization of volume is the real key to long-term success.

Show Notes

  • How did Brad get into the Industry? Brad was a really skinny kid and unhappy with his physique. He started to get into lifting weights and ended up wanting to devote his life to fitness. Both of Brad’s parents were medical physicians so he had a great interest in science. Today, he is primarily researching, educating, and writing. He was a practitioner for 20 years, which has really shaped and directed his research. Brad was 49 years old when...

Joseph Agu talks about the challenges he faced working as sports nutritionist to the British Athletics Team, and how those lessons apply to us regular trainees.

3 Key Points

  1. Even elite athletes often fail to focus on basic nutrition.
  2. Protein intake varies based on the individual but is best given as an absolute recommended intake.
  3. As some simple guidelines to give your loved ones interested in making some positive changes this new year: First, positively change your food environment (fewer sweets around the house). Second, increase your lean protein sources at each meal. Third, increase your vegetable intake. The energy deficit is a by-product of your food environment. As a fourth item, realize there is no magic bullet.

Show Notes

  • How does Joseph describe what he does? Joseph usually describes himself as a nutritionist who works with a variety of trainees from the general population to Olympic athletes. [1:00]
  • How do people find Joseph online? Fit-Pro-Development. [4:45]

  • How does Joseph find working with such diverse trainees? The majority of people Joseph works with are the general gym goers that compete in cross-fit, powerlifting, and bodybuilding competitions. The focus for Joseph tends to be on...

In this second part of our interview, Menno talks about the recent HMB and Ketogenic diet study fraud, and why using steroids can be like creating a “game over” scenario which you want to avoid.

3 Key Points

  1. Steroid use, unless you are planning on continuing it forever, is like entering a cheat code in a Mario game. You shortcut your journey and then take all the fun out of training, which is a major drawback that is often overlooked.
  2. Some of the positive research behind HMB and Ketones seems to be backed with fraudulent data.
  3. Connective tissues might be the limiting factor for growth with advanced trainees. So consider fluctuating the loads you utilize, with higher rep range sets as a staple.

Show Notes

  • Menno’s childhood. Menno is grateful for the work his parents did to raise out of financial hardship. [03:00]

  • How long is steroid testing accurate? Andy advises his competitor friend at the gym that some people going up on stage against him will have used steroids in the past, so it’s important to focus on being his best self and be happy with that. Menno talks about how drug testing is only...

Recorded in my living room in Tokyo, Coach Menno Henselmans of BayesianBodybuilding.com shares tips on how he has stayed jacked and shredded while traveling for the last five years.

I also asked Menno about the somewhat controversial topic of race-based muscular potential, why he isn’t a fan of HIIT, why he quit business consulting to pursue a career in fitness, and his frank thoughts on meal timing and intermittent fasting.

 

3 Key Points

  1. Entrepreneurship is not a one-way journey
  2. Don’t be afraid of losing a bit of muscle
  3. Cardio is not the best tool for fat loss in most cases

Show Notes

  • Menno’s childhood. Menno is grateful for the work his parents did to raise out of financial hardship. [03:00]

  • Entrepreneurship. Menno didn’t start as an entrepreneur. He started in the corporate world seeing how things don’t work because of human factors. Menno noticed that often there is a lack of passion and a lack of drive as a limiting factor for a business. Often, Menno would see businesses ignore accurate algorithms to create a rosy, yet unrealistic, vision for the future. [3:30]

  • When did Menno realize he was intelligent? Menno took the...

This time I have Patrick Umphrey on the show, the man behind the legendary “Eat. Train. Progress.” Facebook group. I talk to him about the power of empathy when working with clients, building that community, and how that has lead to a stream of applicants for his coaching business.

Show notes

  • What would Patrick talk about if he was invited to speak at TED? Empathy. However, Patrick is not a confident public speaker. [01:30]

  • Imposter Syndrome. Andy feels like this is a common struggle. People who are at the top of their game always feel like they could do better. Is there something to people being humble? Patrick is not sure what makes him feel like an imposter. However, Patrick does feel like it is an emotional and instinctual thing. Andy talks about people not being able just to get started. [2:30]

  • Writing for peers over an audience. Andy talks about his struggle with trying to make his content match the level of his peers. He feels that his writing output has gone down as a result. However, realising his audience enjoys his writing Andy doesn’t obsess about this point. [7:30]

  • Patrick speaks on Empathy. Patrick has a...

I’d like to share some of those longer-term client success stories today from the past year and I thank them for giving their permission to do so.

In 2016 I started working with people for longer than a three month period. It has enabled me to get to know my clients much better, program and advise them better, and take them through more dramatic transformations. I consider it to be one of the most rewarding decisions I have made.

(As an aside: A few clients have been kind enough to record video testimonials. I’ve just published the first 60-second clip on my Instagram here.)

Now, to anticipate the question I always get asked: What did their training programs and nutrition plans look like?

I obviously customized things to the individual based on their circumstances, past diet and training experience, and then tweaked based on how they progressed over time. 

However, let me assure you that there are no secrets here. The strategies I use with my clients are the same that I have shared all over the site, and in a more detailed and curated fashion in my books. That’s the whole point – people get to try before they apply for coaching, and whether they do or don’t, I help more people by sharing things openly. It’s a win-win.

Don’t make the mistake of blindly copying someone else’s program instead of taking the relatively small amount of time to tailor it to yourself. Read the guides and put them into action! You...

I’d like to share some of those longer-term client success stories today from the past year and I thank them for giving their permission to do so.

In 2016 I started working with people for longer than a three month period. It has enabled me to get to know my clients much better, program and advise them better, and take them through more dramatic transformations. I consider it to be one of the most rewarding decisions I have made.

(As an aside: A few clients have been kind enough to record video testimonials. I’ve just published the first 60-second clip on my Instagram here.)

Now, to anticipate the question I always get asked: What did their training programs and nutrition plans look like?

I obviously customized things to the individual based on their circumstances, past diet and training experience, and then tweaked based on how they progressed over time. 

However, let me assure you that there are no secrets here. The strategies I use with my clients are the same that I have shared all over the site, and in a more detailed and curated fashion in my books. That’s the whole point – people get to try before they apply for coaching, and whether they do or don’t, I help more people by sharing things openly. It’s a win-win.

Don’t make the mistake of blindly copying someone else’s program instead of taking the relatively small amount of time to tailor it to yourself. Read the guides and put them into action! You...

If looking like The Hulk, Wolverine, or Batman is your primary goal, then a training program with a bodybuilding focus is what you need.

If you have been struggling to grow, this program may help by giving some balance to your routine. Don’t make the mistake of training your chest, arms, and abs each day, neglecting the majority of the musculature in your body. To have a thick chest, you need to have a well developed back. To have big legs, you need to train your hamstrings. To have shredded abs, you need to have enough muscle mass to make getting lean worth it.

In this article, I introduce the sample Novice Bodybuilding Program from our book, though with abbreviated instructions so as not to overwhelm. I’ll show you how to choose exercises and adjust things for the areas where you are more advanced. 

My advice is to resist the urge to skip straight to the Intermediate Bodybuilding Program just because you have been training for a while. Read through to consider whether this is more appropriate first. The less training experience you have, the faster gains you will make. You don’t need nearly as much work to make gains when you are a novice so enjoy this while it lasts.


The Novice Bodybuilding Sample Program OverviewWhy We Built It This Way

The Novice Bodybuilding Program, unlike the Novice Powerlifting Program, is a four-day program. It has more exercises to...

If getting strong as hell is your primary goal, knowing that size and symmetry will mostly come along for the ride anyway, then you need a strength training program that will emphasize that for you. 

This Novice Powerlifting Program taken from our Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid book is a three or four-day program built around developing skill and strength with the competition lifts, while also developing a base of muscularity to aid further strength development.


The Novice Powerlifting Sample Program OverviewHow To Use The ProgramYou will see a 3-day and 4-day option to choose from. Training volume is the same in both versions.If you have no issue with the cumulative fatigue of performing the main lifts first and don’t mind dedicating more time to longer training sessions, go with the three-day version. If you would prefer shorter training sessions but one more session per week or find that the fatigue of the main lifts is detrimental to your accessory work, choose the four-day option.Exercise Selection GuidelinesSkill development is more important to a powerlifter than a bodybuilder, so the variety of exercises used is fewer by comparison. Sometimes you will have options and in that case I have added little buttons like this which you can click to see them→1. I’ve included links to tutorials on the exercises where I thought this might be particularly useful.Choose movements you enjoy, that...

Do you know what I think when I see a guy who has a body carved out of granite like the guy above? That man has discipline. There is an immediate feeling of respect.

Plenty of guys have muscle, but very few have the abs that they want. We are so desperate to shirk responsibility for this that we allow the charlatans of the fitness industry to kid us we are missing some supplement, ‘bio hack,’ or trendy new training method.

It’s bullshit, and deep down we know it.

  • It takes discipline to go consistently to bed earlier so you can train in the morning without being sleep deprived.
  • It takes discipline to say no to ‘one more’ drink with the boys.
  • It takes discipline to seek out a gym so you can squeeze in a session when you are away from home.
  • It takes discipline to cook more than you eat out so you can fuel your body with what it needs.

Anyone can train hard and eat right for a short while, but where we go wrong is failing to follow through on these actions consistently enough.

But do you know what makes this discipline easier? Defining a deep and powerful reason for why you are chasing your goal in the first place.

This is the one thing that sticks out among the hundreds of people I have worked with that were most successful. Sure, knowing that they need to check in every two weeks helped keep them accountable, but this isn’t the army, I couldn’t force them to do anything. That...

I want you to imagine it is the end of March. 

In January you committed to taking care of yourself better. You dusted off your gym membership and spent the last three months hitting the gym every morning. But you have just quit like two-thirds of the other January returnees.

The frustration with seeing a lack of results and the creep of work responsibility and family commitment has eroded your resolve.

There are two main reasons this happens which I want you to avoid.

The first critical mistake people make is that people try to gauge their progress based on scale weight.

The problem is that this will only tell you about weight change, not any fat or muscle mass changes.

A pattern many people find themselves in is that at the same time they (re)start going to the gym, they make an effort to clean up their diets. People reduce their carbohydrate intake, which often causes 2-3 kg of weight loss in the first couple of weeks, which they think is fat but is just the water that attaches itself to carbs when stored as fuel. At the same time, the muscle from your youth is reactivated, muscle is re-grown, and progress appears to slow dramatically because you’re only gauging it based on scale weight.

My advice is simple: track both your scale weight and take stomach measurements. Your weight will fluctuate daily due to water and gut content changes, so weigh yourself each morning upon waking and average it at the...

Dr. Brad Schoenfeld is a prolific research machine and an absolute asset to the lifting community.  I’m ecstatic to have been able to steal an hour of his time to have him answer reader questions.

The key topics we covered are considerations for older lifters, hypertrophy mechanisms, training splits, the value of mind-muscle connection, and how to tell if you are training too much or too little.

3 Key Points

  1. Research should be used as a guideline and not as a clear answer for all people.
  2. Research should not be looked at as individual studies to prove a point and you should be suspicious when it is used this way by others.
  3. There is no magic hypertrophy rep range and periodization of volume is the real key to long-term success.

Show Notes

  • How did Brad get into the Industry? Brad was a really skinny kid and unhappy with his physique. He started to get into lifting weights and ended up wanting to devote his life to fitness. Both of Brad’s parents were medical physicians so he had a great interest in science. Today, he is primarily researching, educating, and writing. He was a practitioner for 20 years, which has really shaped and directed his research. Brad was 49 years old when...