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 :)

Monday, 4 April 2011

How i gained 10kg in 1 month... Part 1

Hello everyone,

The first version of this blog was massive, too big to be considered a light read. So i have made it into 2 parts for easier digesting (and more blog visits!).

Throughout my time in Bahrain i have heard the sentence which included "...moved to Bahrain and gained 10kgs". Ironically, during the past month that exactly what I (we - me and Lou) did. We took the idea from a book (Tim Ferriss's best-selling 4-hour body) called "the geek to freak program" and went against everything we understood about gaining size and strength and put our faith in a guy who had experimented with himself and got an amazing result.

Possibly the best book i have read.

A quick word on "the 4 hour body". Timothy Ferriss is a modern day genius, read his amazing story and you will agree. In creating this book he spent over a decade experimenting on his body to find out what really happens when we train, eat, sleep, etc. If your looking for a new book to read, this is an absolute goldmine of information on the human body. It de-bunks a lot of the myths we have believed about training for years. From sleeping to sex, from fat loss to weight gain... it's amazing read from start to finish. If my brother is reading this, i am sending him it for his birthday (so wait 2 weeks!).

My start weight on Tuesday March 1st was 80kg and as i write this (April 5th) i am 90kg.

How did we do it? By sticking to a system and seeing it through.

How much of this weight is lean body mass (LBM) and bodyfat %? Its always difficult to be 100% accurate, my honest opinion would be 60/40 in favour of muscle (based on bodyfat measures and calculating LBM) so that means i may have put on as much as 6kg of LBM in one training month.

I quickly research this on the internet. Google "how much muscle can i add in 1 month?"

From Vince Delmonte (a fitness professional - who has great knowledge and products)

"There is not a chance in heaven that you will gain 5 or even 10 pounds of dry muscle in one month or even 3 months - not even close. I hate to be the messenger of this bad news but unless you are using growth enhancing drugs... it's IMPOSSIBLE".

So, i guess thats it? I'm full of shit.

Possibly the angriest kid in the world?

Not really, Vince goes on to talk about glycogen weight, water weight and storage in the full answer read it and make your own mind up. It is plausable that dry muscle weight is added over the longer term and glycogen/water weight fills the muscles in the shorter term. Vince mentions that "consistency" is essential in gaining dry muscle, Im totally behind that.

Vince added an impressive 41lbs to his then skinny frame in 6 months using a training program of 4-6 sessions per week. We just added 22lbs in 1 month training in 10 full body weight sessions. Thats just 10 hours of training!

In my opinion (btw you can never be wrong if you start a sentence with those 3 words) Timothy Ferriss has found a better system of gaining size and weight than VDM. VDM is the sort of guy who would already be trying tim's program so i expect i will hear him endorse it soon.

*I guess we can say that LBM can be compromised of dry muslce mass, glycogen and water. Only when an individual is truly ripped (4-6% bodyfat) would you get a more accurate picture of dry muscle mass.

Check out VDM's top quality long-term muscle building program
The goal

To add as much weight as possible in approximately a month (ours ended after 34 days and 10 training sessions). Even though a higher % LBM in the overall weight total was preferable, our fundamental goal was weight gain.

The results

Nathan Williams         +10kg (80.5kg - 90.5kg) - previous heaviest ever weight 86kg
Lullu Murali                + 8kg  (63kg - 71kg) - previous heaviest ever weight 67kg

Impressive numbers which are made even more unbelievable when you consider that we both smashed through our heaviest ever weights by a considerable amount (kg) in such a short space of time.

The training

See Part 2 of this blog

Nutrition (calories) and supplements

The aim of each day is eat excess calories in order to create a calorific excess which will be used in muscle building and recovery. The aim of the supplementation and 'damage control' is to shuttle the calories taking in towards muscle and not fat gain and also to lower cholesterol.

Pasta was my 'go-to' food for over-feeding over the past month

Typical day

Breakfast (6.30am) Metrx meal replacement drink with added creatine and glutamine
2nd breakfast (9am) Baked breakfast croissant with coffee (and fries! or side salad)
Lunch (12noon) Turkey sandwich/Jam on toast/pasta  in lunch box, glass of milk, apple
Snacks - almonds/cashews/brazil nuts/seeds
Pre workout - NO explode
Post workout - Metrx meal replacement with added creatine and glutamine (sometimes a muffin)
*Evening - Chicken/tuna/eggs with Quinoa/Pasta/Potatoes
Bed time - Metrx meal replacement or glass of milk with Creatine/Glutamine

*When eating out i tried to stick with steak, baked potato and veg but generally had what i fancied that day. I ended up eating a lot of chips which was pretty poor really.

Supplementation guide

I will just give a list here, you can check the book out for exact details:

Creatine (5-15g a day)
Glutamine (pre program loading phase from Charles Poliquin)
Policosanol (at night)
ALA (every meal)
Chromium (every meal)
Niacin (had really bad flushes so stopped using after about a week)
Vitamin D (my own inclusion)
Cinnamon tablets (in morning with black coffee)
ZMA (my own inclusion)
NO explode (pre training)

Damage Control

Here comes the interesting bit... Have you ever heard of GLUT4 activity? of course not. In a nutshell... it involves exercising or movement after eating a meal.

Austin Powers... in a nutshell

The chinese had an ancient saying which translated to "walk 100 steps after each meal and you will live to 100 years old". Even a thousand years ago the chinese were onto this theory (I remember my brother doing the same when we were kids, not sure where he got that from?). They believed that moving around after each meal would assist the body to better digest and use the nutrients in the food, It turns out they were on to something. Reda more on GLUT4 activity in the book.

If you're a nerd read this for more GLUT4 stuff.


When you read below in the pro's and con's columns you should see sleep in both. Of course quality sleep is essential for recovery and muscle growth but being tired to the extent of having low energy throughout the day is not good if you have an active job. Throughout the past month I noticed 3 distinct times of the day where i was really tired:

a) On waking - i found it hard to get up, often hitting the snooze button several times before being able to rise. When i did, i never felt fresh in the morning.

b) 1-3pm - yes, its a naturally low time anyway, but the large lunch carb feedings left me really drousy and struggling to stay awake in the afternoon.

c) 9-10pm - i was very tired getting into bed. Again this isn't a bad thing if you are physically tired, but i felt more full from food than anything else

Late night carbs left fido KO'd!
You can make your own mind up, i had some of the best nights sleep in years and some really nice afternoon naps but i realised that im not really in to wasting my daylight hours sleeping; its boring and a bad habit to get in to. Once my diet changes i will enjoy my new energy and get more done.

Geek to freak (G2F) Pro's

Sleep/napping - promotes growth, recovery and repair
Massive recovery time between sessions
All body parts done in one session
(depending on individual) No "cardio" needed
Amazing energy and enthusiasm towards each session (due to infrequency of sessions)
Eating up tp 6000 calories a day allows your diet to go anywhere you want (cheat foods)

Time saved to do other things - let me dwell on this point for a second:

If i just put 10kgs on in 34 days training just 10 hours.

...and a typical Gym member will spent 5-6 hours a week, training each bodypart 2-3 times resulting in 1-2kg gain (normally a great result) in 25+ hours a month...

What the f*ck have we been doing all this time???? training too much and wasting time? it looks like it.

There are few things in life that waste more time than a tricep machine, ARRRGGH!

Before you message me all sorts of crazyness and abuse, remember i'm talking about weight gain which represents a small % of gym members goals but secretly is what most guys are looking to do. Tim Ferriss also has a minimist approach to fat loss in the book, but you got to buy it to find out.

G2F cons

Excessive sleep/napping - unproductive and boring
Same session each time (We loved the training but i realise some people would get bored)
Eating 6000 calories per day is a massive commitment
The 'damage control' exercising is hard to keep up when you eat out
The supplementation protocol is difficult to stick with 100%, you have to be disciplined
Drinking a lot of milk made me feel sick at time

Thats the basics, in part 2 (which i have annoying named part deux) I will take you through the training program, the adjustments we made and what i would do differently. Until next time.

If you want to check out a great new fitness page on facebook, Bahrain-based trainer Leigh Withers has created a great page which includes tips on all things fitness, check it out and leave a comment!!/JLWithersPT

Share with friends on facebook, make comments and look out for Part Deux very soon!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Bonus Blog: 4 ways to F*ck yourself up in under 2 minutes!

Hi all,

A few blogs ago i wrote how you could f*ck yourself up in under 5 minutes, The extension of that blog became another short post and shows how you can do it in around 2 minutes.

If your still reading and want some further carnage to end your workouts then i have put 4 of the best 'finishers' we use at the end of sessions.

Disclaimer: These finishers will elevate your heart rate. If your heart actually stops at the end of 2 minutes, it's not my fault. Always know your heart rate or be confident in your fitness levels before attempting these challenges!

1. 400m sprint

Why? Dubbed "Hell on Earth" for one reason, this max effort sprint is too long to be comfortable. At 45 seconds, a normal human should build up to lactic threshold and start to burn. Expect to puke up if you push it too hard.

How? Find a running track (200m x 2 or 400m x 1), start your timer and run as fast as you can for that distance

Don't say it's easy if.... you cant do it in less than a minute. If your not seriously out of breath at the end then you did it wrong. Try again without half-assing it.

400m is an absolute bastard

2. Body Matrix

Why? Because it hurts so good and you love that. If you want to give your legs a lactic shower before hitting the showers do this little 2 minute leg-blaster.

How? 24 speed squats, 24 speed lunges, 24 jump lunges, 24 jump squats.

Don't say it's easy if.... you can't do 24 on each move and you do not have good technique on all them. Half-rep merchants need not apply!

Great tits, i mean... tekkers.

3. Texas push up Challenge

Why? To test your upper body strength and muscular endurance and to say you can do it to other gym members

How? 1 full push up, stand up... 2 full push ups, stand up... 3 full push ups, stand up... continue to 10 push ups.

Don't say it's easy if.... you can't complete it under 2 minutes and you cant do proper technique push ups.

No matter your age, there is a no excuse for shallow push ups.

4. DB thrusters & Jump/Burpee (1 minute each)

Why? Because we did this in our recent program (weeks 2 & 3) and everyone hated me for it. Expect to feel like your in the "hurt locker" after 90 seconds. Try another set if you really hate yourself or your clients.

How? Place 2 dumbbells on your shoulders, perform a deep squat and push press the dumbbells up when standing up (repeat for 1 minute). Find a space (preferably 20m long) and perform a standing long jump, then perform a burpee and repeat this for 1 minute. If you still have the will to live, repeat this for one more 2 minute set.

Don't say its easy if.... You cant deep squat or put up aleast 10kg DB's. Also if you can explosively jump and keep going for the 2 minutes!

Enjoy these, well... enjoy would be the last word to describe some of them. But put these on the end of your strength training and get a quick cardio blast that will maximise conditioning while minimizing muscle loss, a genuine win-win situation.

Try these out and share comments on the discussion wall below. As always share with FB friends and spread the word :)