Wednesday, November 28, 2012

365, My own plans, and some tips on mass gaining

Because you guys know I like to write all of this shit out (which is why I have a blog, and also write books).

365 should be completed by this weekend.  It started off as just an idea and then blossomed into this full, year long manual.

What can you expect?

A manual that takes you through the year for strength peaking blocks, conditioning blocks, strength acclimation, strength peaking, then mass gaining.  Basically, if you aren't competing but still want to be jacked and tan, be strong and be in shape, this is the manual for you.  Be prepared to walk around by the end of the year being leaner, stronger, and more muscular than you've ever been before and people asking you "WTF are you doing?"

I also have two diets in it.  The LRB diet and a keto version of it for more extreme fat loss, or guys who actually enjoy doing keto.  I hate writing about dieting however this seems to be a big interest so I threw it in there.

The real gold in the manual is the section of efficient training.  This is something I've spent most of this year brain storming about.  Something Wendler and I have talked about for months, and something I believe, if implemented properly, will be very key in making steady, long term progress.  I really don't think that most guys are going to grasp this concept initially, or how it's so important, but the advanced guys will get it....I think.  Not sure, yet.

Either way, it's not something I just pulled out of my ass, it's something I've seen in my own practice for the last couple of years that really started to jump out at me.  Of course, it's also something that Jim has been playing with and found great success using, so we have both been all over this idea.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Again, may not blow you the fuck away right out of the gate, but it's thinking about training at the opposite spectrum that most do, and I'm not sure why I haven't been programming my training like this even for my strength cycles.

Let's just say I've had it right all this time, but didn't see how right I had it.  It'll all make sense soon.

In the meantime, my own plans are to run carbnite for 12 weeks and see where I am at.  Right now, I am down to 240 from around 253 or so, and I feel and look much leaner.  Forever and 12 fucking days my goal has been to get to 242-245 VERY lean.  This is no small feat, and if I had to guess I am going to end up 232 or so in the kind of condition I want to be in.  Maybe even 228, which makes me cringe because I look anorexic at that weight (to me, anyway).

However the bigger picture is getting leaner, then eating back up.  I need to gain maybe 5 pounds of muscle in the next 8 months.  Not impossible, but not easy either since the next 8 weeks will still be on carbnite.  5 pounds of lean mass would mean 10-12 total pounds (water and glycogen, plus SOME fat).  So basically February 1st I will start doing the carb back loading twice a week.  Generally on nights I DO NOT train.  I feel that works best for me.  I generally have great workouts when I do that.  If I go to three carb loads three times a week I found, in the past, that it was too much for me and I gained fat.  So I will start at twice a week, then go from there.

The question might be to me "Why aren't you running the LRB diet?" and that's a fair one.  Mainly because I have eaten that way for years on end, and I just want to try something new and do it correctly.  I think I probably ate too many carbs and carb loaded too often the previous time I tried CBL.  So I'm giving it another whirl.

The LRB is as solid as it comes in terms of eating for both mass and getting lean.  It's basically the mountain dog diet, before I knew what the fuck a mountain dog diet was.  I feel good about that because I think that John Meadows is really f'n sharp, so the fact that his diet and mine look pretty much identical makes me feel pretty good.

My own mass building training is going to revolve around some new (well not new, just shit I haven't been doing in a while) concepts as well.  The staples of the routine will be, for quite some time, incline press (db and barbell variations), elevated stiffs, front squats, and press behind the neck.  My support work will be quite a bit of stuff, and a lot of bodybuilder type techniques will be throw in.  Drop sets, rest pause, slow negatives, etc.  All the stuff that REALLY gets you fucking big.  Not singles, not triples, that shit does NOT get you fucking big.  I don't care what some fat guy tells you.  You don't get massive on low reps.

I didn't pick those movements haphazardly.  Those three movements I picked for a reason.  They are great compound movements all by themselves, however they also build all of the musculature related to the three powerlifts very well, have good carryover for me, and they address some weak muscular areas that I have.  Those three movements will be hit for sets of medium to high reps.  Often times, not as heavy as you would think.  I have been tinkering with a volume/intensity approach where I do the good ol 1-2 sets to failure thing, and the next session where I get in a shit ton of volume with much lighter weights.  I haven't ironed all of this out yet because I want to wait and implement these things when I can eat carbs more often again.  So you see kids, carbs and reps drive mass and strength.  Fact.

I expect my strength to go into the shitter for a bit on this keto.  It sucks, but it's all part of the territory and the bigger plan.  Once the carbs start coming back in on a regular basis, the lifts will start to skyrocket and I can train more balls out.  For now, I'm just going to do the best I can to maintain and see where that gets me.  I still expect a good session now and again, just few and far between.

Before someone offers up "why don't you just hit singles like Jamie, blah blah blah" because that kind of training is not for me.  I'll leave it at that.  Jamie does what he does because it works for him, it is not for me.

For the majority of you, you should be seeing these same principles over and over again and it should be sinking in.  You need reps, you need carbs, you need to train your fucking balls off if you want to GROW.  This is not my "theory" or uncharted waters in terms of training discoveries.  It's also not a hunch.  It's a fact.  Heavy with high reps.  Not light with high reps, and not heavy with low reps for your big movements.  Heavy weight with high reps.  That's where the gold is.  Now heavy is always relative for everyone.  You just have to figure out if you need to check your ego in order to train "heavy" with high reps.

A couple of things I do, that all relate to that and how I developed my philosophies and programs.

  • I generally stick with a weight for a long time, and build more and more reps over time.  Once I really get into the mass gaining phases that will be 315 for incline (as usual), and 365 for close grips.  For db flat and incline, it will be the 140's.  I set goals for each of these and go after them hard.  This is what the entire big-15 philosophy is based around really.  At first, I programmed it so that you bumped the weight every couple of weeks.  However upon examination of what I had really been doing, I found that I tended to stay at the same weight for long periods of time until the reps really got up there.  It was over this time, that I also grew the most.  If you get stuck for a while, add an extra back off set at a lighter weight, or add in some intensity techniques like rest/pause or a strip set.  Not a bunch of shit at once, just pick a technique and try to get in more reps using it.  Eventually you will be doing a shit ton of reps with your selected weight.  
  • For dumbbell work, I have some fixed 140's.  That's why it's the 140's.  Which I think is a good weight anyway.  If you can db bench the 140's for 20 well hell, that's strong.  To me anyway.  So no need is trying to do shit like sets of 5 with dumbbells.  I think that's a big waste of energy to try to get something that heavy into position for just a few reps.  So my recommendation to you, if you decide to use some dumbbells is to settle on a certain weight, and try to pound those until you get your specific rep goal.  I have used this method forever, and it works.  My only suggestion is to sometimes back off for a few weeks, and do some lighter sets for slightly higher reps with more volume.  This tends to pay dividends down the road.    
  • I'm really going to attack a couple of areas that I have known I needed to go after for some time now, but because I hate it, I haven't.  Namely, front squats and shoulder work.  I hate doing shoulder work (overhead pressing) because it's boring as fuck, and I'm good at it.  I know the latter part of that sentence makes no sense, but I've always been more driven to get better at things I suck at, and get bored with shit I'm good at.  That's just my nature.  However, I am REALLY going to buckle down on the press behind the neck and seated db press and see what I can do with those.  For those that ask "why not standing presses or klokovs?"  Because I fucking hate the standing press more than Courtney Love hates sobriety, and Klokov's beat me up really badly.  Plus, as much fun as snatch grip presses are, I personally don't think they have the shoulder building ability of a press behind the neck or seated db press.  That's just going off of how they all feel to me.  When I do snatch grip presses, even for reps, I just keep kind of beat up all over.  When I do PBN and seated db press, my shoulders get scorched.  It doesn't mean I won't get a wild hair up my ass and do some Klokov presses now and then.  I'm sure I will.  I still want to hit 245+ but it's kind of a side note at this point.  That's a lot of writing about how much I hate overhead pressing, isn't it?  Front squats I don't REALLY hate.  At all.  I suck at them and they are uncomfortable as shit.  The quad is feeling a little better (I've written this before haven't I?) and I am scheduled to get an MRI soon, so hopefully I will know what the deal is after that.  In the meantime I will push the volume at no more than 275 or so for fronts.  Which makes me feel like a complete bitch, but it is what it is.  
None of this is new shit here.  You've read all of this from me before, but I still see so many guys confused about this.  Why?  Fucking why???!?!?!  You literally see me implementing it in my own training, yet have so many questions about what to do.  I'm not using witchcraft or trickery.  It's really as simple as I'm laying it out to you.  

Eat big, train heavy for high reps = growth.  You can go to some board and have mental masturbation arguments about this all day, but it's just a fact of training life.  No "easy" style of training is going to change your physical make up.  Shit that is hard to do will.  If it were easy, everyone would look awesome and be swole and jacked.  They aren't.  It's not easy.  If your training methodology for mass gaining isn't difficult, then it sucks.  Strength training and mass training aren't the same animals really.  There is a completely different mind set in the two.  Yes, there is some crossover.  However, when I'm training to get maximally strong I leave a lot in the tank, and peak.  When I am training for mass, I train my balls off in the medium rep range and eat a lot of food.  Why?  Because it works.  It's not rocket surgery.  


  1. Hey, just wanted to say I picked up SLL a few weeks ago and have been doing the new strong 15 for my deadlift, and it's awesome. I've also been implementing some of the ideas you've mentioned for my incline press, and today I hit a PR of 345, followed by a few sets with 275. I'm definitely feeling stronger and have really enjoyed implementing your ideas.

  2. Awesome to hear! That's a solid incline.

  3. So when can we actually get our hands on the manual?

  4. This may be a dumb question, but may I ask how much overlap will there be between the manual and Strength Life Legacy? I'm really interested in the manual, but would I need SLL to understand parts of the manual? Basically,would I need to get both books?

    1. SLL is about as comprehensive as I could get. Honestly, I'm not sure why anyone following my blog hasn't bought it. I answer virtually every question I get each week in it already.

      Overlap? Not sure. It would def be beneficial to have it before the manual.

  5. Paul, let me see if I got you. You will start doing CBL 2 x week as a start for your mass phase after you finish carb nite? Right? Will you add more CBL days in the long run or switch to a more LRB focused diet? Good luck on your plans.

    1. If I need to go to 3 nights a week I will, but I will start at 2.

      Eventually I see myself going back to how I have always eaten because it works well. I just wanted to see this through properly.

  6. Hey Paul! I have been following the SLL book and LRB workouts for a few months now with great results as far as mass and weakness building goes, but i still am having trouble with my main 3 lifts not moving as much as id like. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the LRB template's 2 week split as far as programming goes and what lifts I need to pick for which days to try to beat my reps for. This will be my first time trying 85/93/100 and I'm starting my 3rd week. Im mainly confused about do I skip the 2nd, 4th, and so on weeks for Bench/Squat and only use my "programmed" numbers for my heavy days and just go by how i feel for my "light" days, or do I need to be programming my incline, front squat, and hang cleans as well?

    Thanks for all your help and advice!

    1. Ryan -

      The LRB split can be used in conjunction with the strong-15 however that's not the main purpose of it.

      The LRB split mainly for either strength maintenance while you push the assistance work and hypertrophy work. This is why the singles done on the big lifts are always to be snappy and crisp.

      However the beauty in it, is that you can ditch the programming and hit that solid single based on how you feel on a given day. I recommend programming something for the sake of a yard marker, so to speak, however winging it for the big lifts and then blasting the work to be done after is really the key here. It's an "offseason" split. Not a strength peaking program. There is a big difference.

      so if your main lifts have not been moving like you want them to, then what it appears has happened is that you picked the wrong tool for the job. use the man maker split or the traditional split (both in SLL) to strength peak. The LRB split is probably the best overall program I have ever developed, however it's not really geared towards strength peaking.

      I hope this makes sense.

  7. Hey Paul,

    I have also been playing around with Carb Nite and CBL - pretty neat stuff. One thing you can try is if you are feeling like hammered dog shit at the end of the week is have more frequent carb nites as opposed to switching to CBL.

    Kiefer talked about it on his site that as long as you have 4 ultra low carb days in a row and then a carb nite you are good to go. So instead of every 7th day you can take it down to every 6th day and experiment from there.


    1. Yeah I know, however I'm just going to run it every Friday now. I've only got 8 weeks left so I'll tough it out and see what happens. After that doing the backload twice a week I think will be plenty enough for me.

  8. You should make a New Year's resolution to not discuss diet in any written medium until 2014. Free yourself from this cycle of abuse.

    1. I'm ok with it at times, but I think people overthink it because they want the diet to perform miracles.

  9. Excited to see the manual, Paul. Don't know if you have any advice on this, but one obstacle I'm constantly struggling with throughout the year is that my work life often doesn't allow me to do traditional "Mass in the Winter, Conditioning in the Summer, Strength in between"-type lay-outs. For instance, Jan.-Feb. this year, I will be working 10-12 hour days, meaning I only have Saturday and Sunday to do ANY training. That happens multiple times a year for me, and I generally find that I've lost a good bit of ground in those periods.

    I've tried a few different strategies: Train my ass off with some conventional 2-day splits on my available days (ran me into the ground on top of the heavy work schedule), take the opportunity to focus on lower-weight variants like inclines and pause squats (all my lifts suffered), or use it as an excuse to dial back training and push the diet (lifts suffered and so did my energy levels for work).

    It's something I keep tinkering with everytime it comes around. I expect that I'll have to find my own way on this for the most part, and may never "solve" it. If you had any thoughts, they would be appreciated.

    1. Do 2 big workouts on the weekend then do the small stuff at home.

  10. Hey, what's your take on this:

    As far as cutting carbs goes, and upping fat intake in order to drop body fat, will the increase in denser calories cause a WEIGHT gain whilst dropping body fat simultaneously or will the over all calorie intake cause weight AND fat gain?

    The reason I ask is because I've cut carbs and increased cardio , but I notice weight gain as far as the SCALE goes, should the scale be ignored?

    1. I know this question was for Paul, but if you have carbnite Keifer explains this quite simply. From what my current understanding is fat + carbs makes you gain fat. fat + protein creates a keto environment ONLY IF your carbs for the entire day are kept under 30g. You need to to this for a minimum of 4 days and 10 days as a primer before you can get away with a 4-7 day window.

      And yes, I ignore the scales. You need an accurate way to measure your body composition if you want to start weighing yourself, etc. Honestly the majority of equipment out there is not really that accurate and it costs money to get a proper test, so don't bother. Best thing you can do is take some before and after photos in the exact same conditions and track your progress accordingly.

      My two cents. Hope that helped somewhat.

  11. Thanks it really did thank you a lot. What do you mean by a 4-7 day window, and not to try and sound to ignorant but what does carbnite Keifer mean?