Monday, 25 April 2011

How i gained 10kgs... Part deux

Hi all,

If you're new to the blog or didn't read Part 1, here it is:

I suggest reading it first as this blog would make no sense. Its been a while coming but here is part 2 (or deux... because im a dick) of my "how i gained 10kgs in a month" blog.

Firstly, I would like to reply to the person/people who said my blog was "always negative" by saying a nice big "**** ***" and thanks for the feedback even though it is, absolutely useless. Probably like yourself. The blog is meant to be informative and lightly sarcastic in humour (my own brand) - if i have offended you by some of the content in the past then please allow me to say "**** ***" again!

How about making a comment below next time and start a real fitness debate? Not pass ridiculous comments to my friends about what you think of my writing - tell me in person and stop lurking on my blog - take some of the excellent advice here (and it is excellent) and use it for positive means or make some constructive feedback in the comments section. Rant over.

Stop lurking and make a constructive comment!

The Training

In a word - WOW! when i read what training we were going to do over the course of this program i must admit i wasn't looking forward to it, my training partner (Lou, a bodybuilder type) was licking his lips at the slow-tempo-extended rest bonanza that was about to happen! How wrong i was! I absolutely loved the sessions, they ended up as some of the hardest, most productive training sessions i've ever done. I was left completely wiped after each workout - but in a good way!

These are the guidelines:

- 1 max set of each muscle group, completing a minimum of 7 reps
- Lifting tempo is 5:5 @ 7 reps, thats a minimum set duration of *70 seconds

Slow, controlled tempo is the order of the day
*Try completing a 70 second set with a heavy weight at 5:5, let me know how that goes!

- 3 minutes rest between each exercise
- NO cardio needed
- You should lift more weight or complete more reps at each training session.

A typical session might look like this:

- DB bench press
- Barbell row
- Squat
- Cable abdominal crunch
- Cable lat pulldown
- Barbell shoulder press
- Tricep pushdown
- DB bicep curls

Or whatever exercises/muscle groups you choose in any order.

There were a number of reasons why i think each session was so good, here are the best ones:

1. Rest

Think of every muscle building program you have been on. I'm guessing it had you training 4-6 times per week trying to hit every muslce group at least twice, possibly 3 times! the more the better, right? Well this programs' main focus is on total recovery after each session and the recovery time actually increases as the month goes on. From 2 days up to 4 days between training! Tim (author) actually experimented until his recovery time was an unbelievable 10 days!

Rest for 2 complete days between sessions 1, 2, 3 and 4... then rest 3 days between sessions 5, 6, 7 and 8... then rest 4 days and so on... We only trained 10 hours in 34 days!

Myth number 1 debunked: The more you train the bigger you get, it seems that this is not the case. Recovery is a massive (and often overlooked) factor in muscle growth.

You need your quality sleep to recover and grow

2. TUT

Over the course of my training career i have moved away from pure bodybuilding training (for different reasons i wont go into here). But, i have never critized bodybuilding training, after all its what made me fall in love with lifting weights, it changed my life. I think people get confused when training like a bodybuilder and the main concept that causes this confusion is time under tension (TUT). All top trainers/bodybuilders i'm sure know that to elicit the best muscular gains, sets have to be anything from 45-120 seconds. Yet the average set performed in the gym is about 20-25 seconds (thats my own guess).

So you can see that those guys looking for pure muscle gain are really missing the point when it comes to hypertrophy (muscle building) training.

This program does not allow you to have short set. Eventually we agreed that all sets were timed at 75 seconds and didn't bother with the reps.

3. Failure

How many people actually train to 'true failure' any more? If you train on your own its very difficult and by my observations a lot of people do not lift enough weight for enough reps to even get close to 'true failure'. Although there is enough literature out there to support that going 'balls to the wall' on every set will quickly catch up with you, that same literature does not involve 2-5 days off complete rest between sessions. It's your call - we tried it and it worked. "Go hard or go home!" Haha, i sound like a hardcore cross-fitter! 

4. Full body

Im not going to go into the benefits of full body as opposed to body part training because that subject could take up a whole blog by itself. Personally i think training the body as a whole unit in one session is the most time-efficient and all-around optimum way to train. Thats just my opinion, if you disagree, great... comment below and start a debate. Even if i had more time, i still don't think i would opt for the 'bodybuilding' twice a day, body-part split. This program suggests that you hit each muscle group for 1 set to failure, brutal and simple.

5. Calorie surplus

This is a (excuse the pun) massive area again overlooked for muscle/weight gain. Many factors need to be considered when calculating calorie intake for muscle/weight gain.

For example, I would assume that i need around 3-4000 calories to gain some muscle - with around 800-1000 calories of that being lean protein (200-250g). Its a very basic estimate, that i guess would work.

When i read John Berardi's nutrition section in a great book called "Scrawny to Brawny" (the title doesn't do the book justice) he asked would-be weight gainers to fill in certain numbers to be calculated. these numbers would be based on training type, fitness level, training frequency, job type, etc. 

My "Scrawny to Brawny" calculation came to a whopping 5400 calories per day So using my knowledge i could have been up to 2000 calories away from JB's recommended calorie intake for muscle/weight gain. Believe me, over a period of 4-6 weeks that would result in a significant amount of calories and resulting muscle/weight gain.

On the "geek to freak" training plan, the aim every day is to eat close to 6000 calories. Believe me, it may sound like a lot of fun but its really tough. Eating that many calories every day for only a month is a real commitment.

By the way, JB is one of the leading sports nutrition experts in the world today. Still not convinced? One of his superstar personal nutrition clients is George St Pierre. If you don't know who GSP is, i can't help you!

UFC welterweight world champion, GSP

Why i'm not going to give you our exact program....

Part of the reason this training month was so cool was the fact we always were looking to improve the way the session went. We tried different exercises, added and took away things we didn't feel right - it was a true 1 month experimental program which i feel we got right towards the end. I will however share below, what i would do differently if done again - so i can save you some of the mistakes we made!

For the record, if you stick with Tim's methods in "4 hour body" you will get amazing results. You may need to adjust certain things if you have work or other commitments.

What would i do differently?

My goal - lean mass 2-3kg

10kg in 1 month is ridiculous, i know that now - i just wanted to prove i could do it. Next time i would set my goals a lot lower and not gorge out on any food that was put in front of me. I honestly don't think its a good idea to change that rapidly either way... "slow and steady wins the race".

Eat cleaner

I would definitely lower my total calorie intake goal for the next "G2F" training month. I think i could add 2-3kg of quality mass by making that adjustment alone. Also, the fact that i sit here now typing this blog with relatively high BF% levels is obviously not a good practise for a fitness professional. Im being hard on myself here as i completed a very specific goal but if you asked me would i repeat it - i would say no, because i believe all PTs should be in shape at all times to inspire clients to train and eat well.

Concentrate on good, whole foods and plenty of them

Roll/stretch extensively/yoga

This program allows you an amazing amount of rest time. I would program in Foam rolling, mobility, flexibility, yoga, etc on those off days to fully use the time. I didn't do this nearly enough and ended up quite tight in some areas due to the intensity of the training.

You have lots of time to sort your soft tissue out, use it wisely and get better results

Add more direct leg work

Apart from Squats, there was no direct leg work in the training (excluding deadlifts). I would add in some direct hamstrings or calves. Trouble with that is i may have to resort to... drumroll......


Add in machines where needed (what the f*ck!)

Rip my PT uniform off my back and throw my in a cave! Did i just suggest using a machine for weight training? Yes, in fact for this type of training tempo (5:5) machines would be an excellent way to really concentrate on muscle contraction and really get the tempo correct. For example, Squats were really tough and i think leg press could be a great alternative and executed better. Hamstring curl machines could be good? Smith machine could be a good addition for calf raises... who knows? I would definitely include some machines next time, so shoot me.

The smith machine could be a good addition when performing 5:5

Throw in 'Cardio'

I put on a lot weight in a month, simples.

According to my caliper measurements approximately 40-50% of it was bad weight (see the word 'fat') which i know have to lose again. Im not saying i would start running or cycling for extended time (that would then conflict the actual goal for the month) but i would include some intense, heart raising activities next time to keep the waistline tighter. These include:

KB swings 
Tabata (20 seconds hard, 10 seconds rest)
Rowing (500, 1000m)
Farmers Walks

These could be done in any fashion, Im quite liking the Kettlebell swing at the moment, i stick to 4 sets with 30 seconds rest and progress the reps each session. With skipping i tend to hit numbers like 500/1000 but thats just me. I would not go over 10 minutes each session.

Exercise order

You will find out that putting all upper body exercises in order will fry your forearms very quickly, leaving sub-optimal sets on arms (usually at the end). The way we got around this was to mix the exercise order to switch between upper, lower, core, upper, lower and so on.... try it out, the order we ended up with was way better on the forearms and arm strength than the order we started with on day 1.

Get a kick-ass training partner! 

Throughout the entire month i trained with fellow PT and (now) Ex-colleague Lulu Murali. We matched each other weights about 85% of the time. I feel like i lift a decent amount of weight when i train - compared to most gym goers anyway. The crazy thing is i had 20kg on Lou!!! Thats one strong MoFo right there. Find yourself a training partner that will bring the best out of you at every training session.

Thanks Lou!

Comment below and share with FB friends if you liked this :)


  1. really interesting!! would it work for women if you reduced the amount of exercise and calorie intake? lets say to gain half the amount muscle... also, did you gain more fat? or was it purely muscle? , we miss you btw! xx

  2. It's nice to know how you did it. Thanks a lot for that information. Always maintain your health while dieting.


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