With this post, I’m trying something a little different. I’ve been speaking with many people lately who’ve asked questions about what I’m doing currently and what’s best to put on some muscle mass. After a couple weeks of diligent note taking, here are some highlights from those conversations.
“What training split should I use?”
I don’t love the idea of a rigid “training split.” I find that sort of structure limits the creativity of prioritizing different muscle groups and realizing that different muscles recover at differing paces. However, if I were forced to pick one that’s commonplace, it would be “Push-Pull-Legs” simply for the sake of hitting muscle groups twice per week and getting the benefits of metabolite accumulation (“the pump”) via sufficient intra-session volume.
Without getting into a great, long monologue, I personally prioritize whatever lifts/muscle groups I care about most that month. In order to do that, I program the prioritized exercises earlier in the workout and with more frequency throughout the week.
“What Program do you use to track your workouts and food intake?”
If I start in on this topic, it’ll be difficult to stop. This is also a question that directly pertains to the business services I’m currently creating. That said, here’s a brief rundown.
I use Excel for all of it. Workout tracking. Food tracking. Body weight. Everything.
I know the “Rocky Balboa” mentality is to tote your spiral notebook, gallon of water, and Chuck Taylors into the gym. I did the notebook route for a while, but I made the switch many years ago, and here’s why…
It’s difficult to refer back to past performance in a notebook. If you can’t refer back to old numbers, exercises, and progressions for the sake of the future, what good is tracking anything?
Notebooks get lost, spilled on, thrown away with dilapidated Christmas decor
It takes more time to handwrite information
I think this question is probably the most important of the four here. Reason being, it directly pertains to progressive overload and thus the efficacy of all your time in the gym. If you don’t know where you’ve been, how can you choose weight, sets, reps, etc. for the present and future? Now results aren’t coming because you’re unknowingly doing unproductive and inconsistent work in the gym. That sucks.
If you struggle with stuff like this, keep an eye out for the “SERVICES” page coming soon on the website.
“What do you think about a low-carb diet for building muscle?”
I advocate low-carb dieting intermittently for fat-loss but not for building muscle. The most important variable to get correct when looking to build muscle is that all-important caloric surplus, which is made much more difficult when limiting carbs. Putting on muscle is fun because you get to eat a bit more food. However, it becomes less enjoyable when you have to spend loads of time cooking because the majority of your diet is composed of protein and fats. Convenience is your best friend when trying to make sure you eat enough. This is all in addition to the importance carbs have for productive exercise.
Also, sometimes it’s helpful to use the K-I-S-S method (“ ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ –Michael Scott” –Dwight Schrute). Low-carb diets are a solid method to drop weight, and there’s something inherently uphill about using fat-loss methods to put on weight.
“What supplements are you using? What do you recommend?”
Currently, I use raspberry-flavored Creatine Monohydrate and Citrulline-Malate (an amino acid commonly found in most commercial pre-workout products) before workouts. I like the flavored Creatine because it forces me to spend less money on flavoring products. I’m not trying to drink a cocktail tasting like wet chalk. The Citrulline has been shown in a limited amount of research to improve blood flow and decrease fatigue during exercise. However, if someone told me tomorrow that I wasn't allowed to use these products anymore, I wouldn’t be overly concerned. I’ve never seen a supplement for natural lifters that’s worth fretting over.
I haven’t consistently used any protein powders for quite some time, and I’ve never been big on commercial pre-workout supplements due to cost and the potential for a misguiding ingredient list. I don’t have anything against these products, but I do think they should be viewed as a supplement and not a necessity.
Other than that, I drink coffee regularly before workouts because I do enjoy the mental acuity it gives me, but I don’t consume enough to see any real physical benefit.
*If you want more on the benefits of caffeine for exercise, refer to my blog titled “What You Must Know About Caffeine.” *
Thanks for reading.
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