I’m sick and tired of reading shitty, half-assed, rinsed-and-repeated posts about lifting and nutrition written by DudeBros who think because they’ve completed six months of Strong Lifts that they’re now an authority on the subject. Thus, I’m going to take the time to actually write a decent one in the hopes the Mods will see fit to sticky it for a duration and we’ll see fewer half-witted posts on the subject.
Why Training Is Important
Physical training is an integral part of the Red Pill ideology and there are two primary reasons for this. First, it instills discipline in you as a man. By consistently hitting the gyms a minimum of three times per week and keeping a training log, you create accountability in your life and develop a diligence that bleeds over into other aspects of your life. Weight training strengthens your mind simultaneously. A training log is essential to genuine long-term growth. Whether you choose to use an old-fashioned notebook and pen or a smartphone app is up to you. Either way, train with a purpose, record every set and rep, and hold yourself accountable.
The second reason why preach the iron gospel is that regardless of what women hamster, visible muscle mass has powerful, animalistic effect on women. They claim it doesn’t matter, but present them with broad shoulders and muscular arms and they can’t keep their hands off you. It’s takes nothing more than a gym membership and your time, yet presents you with an excellent and cost-effective method of increasing your SMV.
There will inevitably be some faggot that chimes in, "What about calisthenics? I much prefer that to lifting weights." I don't give a shit what you prefer, and fuck you for being a delicate little snowflake who just has to chime in to feel good about yourself. This guide is about lifting weights. If you prefer to do gymnastic routines on bars in a park, more power to you; no one claims it doesn't work and that gymnasts aren't jacked as fuck. However, the principles of volume and overload discussed immediately hereafter still apply.
How Training Works
Bodybuilding is an expression of muscular adaptation, a process by which the body prepares itself to manage more physiological stress than its already experienced. We lift weights, which constitute as an external stress on our muscle tissue. This stress is sub-lethal (meaning it doesn't fucking kill you), but it still alarms the body nonetheless and initiates the super-compensation process. During rest and recovery, the body attempts to adapt to the stress and assuming the body's adaptive capacity has not been overwhelmed, we see an increase in bodily performance proportionate to the level of stress. I'm simplifying this process drastically here, but the basic take away is you must overload the body, let it recover, then overload it again without overwhelming the body's capacity to recover. This process is also referred to as progressive overload.
In this process, the most efficient way to consistent achieve overload and adaptation by increasing overall training volume. When it comes to muscular growth (hypertrophy), volume is king. Volume can be approximated by multiplying (WEIGHTxSETSxREPS), so a squat at 225-lbs for 5x5 would be 5,625-lbs of training volume. You can track volume workout to workout, or on a weekly, monthly, or even annual basis. As long as you are increasing volume across whatever interval you choose, you will see gainz.
How to Train for Volume
There are many methods of consistently increasing volume, but I'll touch on what I think are the simplest/best ones here.
The first method is to increase the weight. The most efficient way to do this is with a linear progression, or LP. A linear progression calls for the trainee to use the same SETSxREPS each workout, but increase the weight (thus increasing the volume). As a new lifter, this is where you should start, as your body will physiologically adapt quickly making an LP the most efficient means of gaining new muscle tissue. Strong Lifts, Starting Strength, and GreySkull LP are all linear progressions.
The second method of increasing volume is to do more work in the same amount of time. This style has been popularized of late by CrossFit and the AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible), and is also referred to as density training. An example of this might be to do as many pull ups as you can within a 10-minute time limit. If you get 50 reps the first week, then repeat the workout and get 54 reps in the same amount of time, you've increased your training volume for that session.
The third method of increasing the volume is simply to do more reps with the same weight. If you did 5x5 at 225 the previous week (25 working reps), simply keep the weight and go for 28-30 working reps this week (4x7 or 5x6). It's a slower, more calculated process, but picking a weight that you can do for 4x6 and then staying at that weight until you can do 4x10 with it allows you to very slowly load volume (individual reps) and achieve consistent results. Another way to do this is to target a specific number of reps then strive to hit that same number in progressively fewer sets. For example, targeting 32 reps you might start off with 8 sets of 4 reps, but end with 4 sets of 8 reps at the same weight. You're not technically increasing overall volume per workout, but instead increasing volume per set.
As a beginner, you should be focusing on quality reps under solid tension and perfecting your form. Biomechanics and position should always come before pounds. You should not be chasing failure with drop sets and so forth until you've built a strong foundation. This is the biggest mistake new lifters make. There's no point in attempting to do the complex shit Arnold did in his prime at age 30 without doing the 15 years of foundational work he did before. This is the equivalent to thinking because you drove a Mustang on the Autobahn that you're qualified to drive Lewis Hamilton's Formula 1 racecar.
I'm going to stop there, as getting heavy into periodization is beyond the scope of what the average TRP reader needs. Additionally, most complex periodization schemes are simply managing intensity around the body's recovery capacity to ensure small jumps in overall volume over the course of the micro- or meso-cycle.
A beginner should start with and run a linear progression until they fail to progress workout to workout. However, I'm not personally a fan of either Strong Lifts or Starting Strength. I think Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training is a fantastic book and a resource every man should own and read for its insights into technique, biomechanics, and injury prevention. However, I felt better and achieved a more pleasing, masculine physique with John Sheaffer's GreySkull LP program (http://www.powerliftingtowin.com/greyskull-lp/). That's my personal recommendation on the subject, and I'll leave it at that.
As a natural, drug-free lifter, you're best suited to training 3-4 times per week, and most LPs are configured as such. In each workout, you should focus on the complex movements first (bench press, overhead press, squat, deadlift, pull ups), then finish your session with assistance work (curls, flyes, calves, shoulders, et cetera). Isolation work cannot replace complex movements, but there's also nothing wrong with some curls for the girls.
Diet and nutrition is a touchier subject, one in which people love to argue over. The main thing every man should understand is there is hierarchy of priorities when it comes to fat loss or muscle gain.
Total calorie count per day and per week is the most important factor in gaining or losing weight. While hormones, food quality, and sleep with have an impact on fat loss or muscle gain, at the end of the day you cannot escape the energy equation. To lose one pound per week, a trainee should aim to achieve a 3,500-kcal deficit. How you achieve that deficit is largely up to you. You can shoot to eat 500-kcal less each day, or try an "Eat, Stop, Eat" method where you fast for 24-hours twice a week to achieve for deficit. Both work, so pick the one that you prefer so long as you hit the 3,500-kcal deficit.
Conversely, to gain weight, do the opposite, and shoot for a modest caloric surplus. Bulking too quickly leads to "dirty bulks" where fat gains outpace muscle growth, and lead to a flabby, shitty looking body. Again, shoot for slow, controlled growth. I would recommend simply reversing the deficit guide above, and aim for a 500-kcal a day surplus.
Understand the body is a complex organism with a myriad of systems and influencing factors. You might not gain or lose exactly one pound per week as outlined above, and may have to tweak accordingly. This is OK, so long as you remain diligent and focus on making the minimum number of changes possible; if a 500-kcal deficit works, don't do a 650-kcal just "because."
With regards to macronutrients, people respond differently to different configurations. Some people achieve mind-blowing results on low carb or ultra-low carb diets, while others like myself just get flabby and flat. Some people look at carbs and get fat; others find a good starchy meal makes their muscles look large and full. Experiment with low, moderate, and high carb/fat diets yourself, and figure out which works best for you (stay on each for 4-6 weeks at a time).
For optimal results, you will need to track your calories. There are any number of apps and websites with which to do this. However, be aware that people are fucking stupid, and tend to enter alarmingly incorrect nutritional data on even the simplest of foods. As such, it's best to get a scale and weigh and measure your own food to ensure accuracy, or at least double-check the stats on something before you put it in your log.
There is no magical macronutrient ratio for ultimate alphaness. You will likely have to experiment and tweak based on your ability to consistently his your numbers. Protein and carbohydrates are both 4-kcal per gram; fat is 9-kcal per gram.
Men over-estimate their protein needs and under-estimate their carb needs, especially during bulking. Above 0.8-grams per pound of bodyweight, protein has diminished returns (http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/). Both Layne Norton and Menno Henselmans have written extensively about this.
For gaining weight, carbohydrates are more your friend than protein ever will be. Protein does, however, help you feel full which can be especially useful when cutting. Fats are essential to healthy testosterone production, both saturated and unsaturated varieties. Much of the literature indicates that for optimal health, men should keep fat intake above 20% of total daily calories.
They're generally a poor use of your money. If you wish to supplement your diet, whey protein and creatine monohydrate is about all you should invest int (maybe Vitamin D and Zinc if you work a desk job indoors), and given how poorly regulated the industry is, if money is tight you'll be better served by buying a few extra pounds of chicken or beef versus powders. Diet always outweighs supplementation for performance.
US Army Infantry Officer for 5 years. Certified Fitness Trainer under the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). Level 1 Trainer under CrossFit, Inc. Two years of full-time experience as a personal trainer at both Gold's Gym and Equinox. I no longer train clients, so if you want more personalized consultation, contact /u/GayLubeOil
1. Training is an integral part of developing yourself physically and mentally as a man and increases your SMV.
2. Volume is king when it comes to growth. Lift with a purpose: to systematically increase training volume. Record everything in an app or notebook.
3. Chase perfect form, not failure.
4. Caloric intake takes precedence when bulking or cutting. There is no perfect diet or macronutrient ratio; experiment as necessary.
5. 99% of supplements aren't worth the money. Eat real food.