Episode 11. Bulking Diets and Bulking Meal Plans

Episode 11. Bulking Diets and Bulking Meal Plans

Episode 11. Bulking Diets and Bulking Meal Plans

Show Notes

What does successful bulking look like in the real world? What are the key success factors in a successful bulk? WHO is a good candidate for bulking, and — perhaps more importantly — who isn’t?

Bulking Notes:

  • Scott and Kevin emphasized the timelines. Building a significant amount of muscle does not happen overnight. It just doesn’t.
  • A corollary of this is that mentally, you have to be prepared to bulk, and to keep bulking, and then to stay bulked up for not just weeks or a few months, but a year and longer.
  • Scott compares building a body to building a house: you need to bring in the workers, you need to have enough material, and you need to keep them there. If you send them home, it’ll take awhile to bring them back.

The ABCs of Bulking

  • If in doubt, eat.
  • That said, avoid big meals. Eat a bunch of small meals. This isn’t magically stoking the metabolic fire, but it is stoking things like subjective hunger.
  • Never stop listening to your biofeedback.

Protein and other macro needs for bulking?

  • Protein needs not *that* huge. Your body can only build so much muscle. If you take in excess protein, what happens is deamination: it’s broken down and used for glucose. That’s expensive physiologically and actually, in terms of your wallet.
  • The “building blocks” of the house are the protein-sparing nutrients (carbs and fats)?
  • 16-20 X BW in calories is a good starting point for total calories.
  • After that starting point, it’s about biofeedback: elimination, digestion, energy, etc.

Other Notes:

  • Don’t ignore biofeedback. If your’e not hungry, don’t force feed. Stoke your hunger and build your way up.
  • Bulking is one of those situations where you can “drink your calories” (as opposed to dieting, when you don’t want something that won’t fill you up).
  • Don’t load up on veggies if you’re bulking. Don’t cut them out entirely, but by virtue of your increased total intake, you’ll get what you need, and overdoing it can be…. unpleasant.
  • Bulking is not that complicated. Stick to the basics.
  • Cosmetically bulking is not pleasing. But if you quit too soon you’ll be gaining fat for no reason!
  • We’re talking at least 6 months, and more likely something like 2 years, if you’re doing a real, serious bulk. But you can’t give an exact timeline. The body will take the time it takes. AND once you get up to a certain point, you need to stay there.

Signs things are going well:

  • You’re doing well in the gym. Stronger, good energy, etc. If suddenly you can’t perform because you’re so out of breath, you’re not doing your physique goals any favours.
  • Some of what you gain is clearly muscle.
  • Hunger is still up.

Who should NOT bulk?

  • Someone who puts on fat very easily. This might mean endomorphs, or people who’ve lost a significant amount of fat previously and are pre-disposed to put it back on.
  • Anyone over 50 years old. Gaining a lot of weight is a form of stress on the body that you shouldn’t be applying to it at that age.
  • Anyone not able to mentally make the long-term commitment. It is a mental game too.

Links / Resources mentioned

The Sh*tter: A Cautionary Tale About Biofeedback: http://scottabelfitness.com/the-shtter-cautionary-tale-about-biofeedback-metabolism-and-diet-cults/

Episode 10. The 10 Fitness Strategies We Secretly Try to Teach Our Clients

Episode 10. The 10 Fitness Strategies We Secretly Try to Teach Our Clients

Episode 10. The 10 Fitness Strategies We Secretly Try to Teach Our Clients

Show Notes

These are the 10 strategies or ways of thinking that Scott and Kevin try to teach all their clients. This isn’t about this or that diet, or this or that workout plan; rather, it’s about ways of approaching fitness, dieting, and training in such a way that the client is setup for longterm success.

The Ten Strategies:

ONE. Focus on Process Goals over Achievement Goals

  • Don’t focus on the top of the staircase. Focus on the next step, then the next, then the next.
  • The goal is the process, and the process is the goal.
  • Be focused on where you’re at, and get it done.

TWO. Focus on Small Wins

  • Each small win builds momentum, and you can build off each one.
  • Sometimes “staying consistent” is the most important on. Sometimes “nothing’s happening” is itself a win.

THREE. Coax the body.

  • A lot of this is learning what coaxing the body really means. I.e. it’s not “coax the body for a week” and then if something isn’t happening, drop calories be 300.
  • Timelines are a warning sign that you’re trying to force something; the body changes at the rate it changes. This is different for different people.
  • Don’t demonize food groups, learn what tolerable hunger is, and ride that wave.

FOUR. Avoid Fads and Get Real.

  • It’s not the diet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Paleo, low carb, high carb, vegan, Atkins, HCG — whatever. Focusing on these things is itself the issue. Many diets work, once you nail the other principles we’re talking about (getting the process right, coaxing the body instead of forcing it, etc.)
  • Choose the behavior; choose the consequences.

FIVE. Learn to Listen to Biofeedback.

  • In Scott’s opinion, this is the number one thing a coach can teach a client.
  • Forget the numbers. That’s outside in. Biofeedback is inside out.
  • What worked for you however many years ago is not what will work for you now. Biofeedback has changed!
  • Focus on the general principles. What do the successful diets have in common (a caloric deficit)? People who gain a lot of muscle — what do they have in common (caloric surplus and decent training)? Get those right, apply the general principles to biofeedback, and the rest fall into place.
  • One potential “hiccup” with this, is the fact that people can’t read their own biofeedback for emotional reasons. E.g., you emotionally want a cheat day, so it’s harder to accurately gauge your actual, physiological need for one. (This leads into the next point.)

SIX. Establish Rapport (with the client, or with yourself)

  • Scott likes Vern Gambetta’s quote that the role of the coach is to go from a guiding light to a mirror.
  • Rapport is about tuning, learning what will and won’t work, how best to send and receive a message. This also occurs inside your own head. Learning to read your biofeedback, for example, demands a certain amount of rapport with yourself.
  • “Establish” is a verb, and an ongoing on. Think of it like tuning a guitar or a piano. You don’t just go in and tune everything. You make an adjustment, then listen. Make an adjustment, then listen. This takes time.

SEVEN. Create an Atmosphere of Trust, Not Judgment (again: with the client, or with yourself)

  • Without trust, the coaching relationship falls apart.
  • For a coach, this is obviously done between coach and client… but even then, this is always about self-talk, and what’s going on in the client’s head. The client should be able to trust themselves.

EIGHT. Be More Person-Centered

  • It’s about the person in front of you. Physiologically, this is about biofeedback, but it’s also about communication and mindset.
  • Don’t be the Paleo guy, or the crossfit guy. Be the person guy!

NINE. Focus on Self-Discipline, Slip-Ups and All

  • Some people don’t need this; some people do.
  • This relates to the above about being non-judgmental yet honest in your self-talk and in your own head.
  • It’s a skill. It developed over time.
  • If you’re self-disciplined in one aspect of your life, but not another — use that. See that what you’re doing in one aspect of your life is not, currently, being carried over. So do that — carry it over. This will make it far easier over starting from nothing.
  • Mike mentioned Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Mike likes that book)

TEN. Make It About Who You Are, Not What You Are Doing

  • Don’t define yourself by your goal.
  • Mike mentioned James Clear’s blog and identity-based habits. If your identify as someone who struggles with X, then you will struggle with X. (For example, snacking.) But if you think of yourself as someone who “never does that,” then guess what? You won’t do that.
  • Scott constantly asks, “Who am I being?” For example, someone who switches to vegetarianism for ethical reasons doesn’t struggle with not eating meat the way a dieter might struggle. They don’t feel tempted in that way.
  • Try to build on everything.

Links / Resources mentioned

How to Be An Insanely Good Online Fitness Coach

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Scott’s “Do Your Job” blog post

Jame’s Clear’s blog.

Episode 9. How to do a Powerlifting Bench Press vs. Bodybuilding Bench Press

Episode 9. How to do a Powerlifting Bench Press vs. Bodybuilding Bench Press

Episode 9. How to do a Powerlifting Bench Press vs. Bodybuilding Bench Press

Show Notes

The bodybuilding bench press is not the same as the powerlifting bench press. Today’s episode was all about understanding WHY you’re doing a movement (like the bench), and how that affects your lift. The two styles of bench press are so, so different, yet if you walk up to any trainee in the gym and ask them which one they’re doing, you’ll often get a totally blank look!

Scott laid out 5 basic rules for nailing your barbell bench press technique, and of course Kevin had a LOT to add with respect to the powerlifting style bench press.

Rule 1. Decide Why You are Doing It.

Are you doing this for strength (powerlifting) or for chest development and aesthetics (bodybuilding)? If you’re doing a powerlifting bench press, you’re training the movement. If you’re bodybuilding, you’re training the muscle, and the bench press movement is a means to an end.

In powerlifting you’re recruiting muscle beyond the pecs. In bodybuilding you’re trying to hit the pec muscles first and foremost.

In powerlifting, your overload comes from more poundage and more volume, and in bodybuilding there more emphasis on the volume aspect. In powerlifting, you might even just be “practicing” the movement.

Rule 2. Feet Up or Feet Down

Obviously, the powerlifting bench press has feet down. In bodybuilding, you can decide. In a bodybuilding bench press, your feet can be up or down, but don’t switch it up within a single workout.

With your feet up, you create a joint-stress transfer. Without the feet on the ground as your base of support, the stress gets transferred to the hips, and then to the shoulders.  This leads to more muscle recruitment in the pecs, since there are no stresses on the other joints like anterior delts, posterior chain.

The feet up are an advanced progression. If you’re an intermediate, keep the feet on the ground. You can also try putting your feet on a box that’s not as high as a bench. If you have back issues, you can also use a Staggered Base of Support. See Scott’s videos on that below, as well as Kevin’s course on the compound lifts.

Rule 3. Hands Off for Crying Out Loud! (Spotters)

Your spotters should not be helping you. They are there if you need them. 

And frankly, if you need a spotter, the load is too much for you.

Train in the range of success.

Rule 4. Use Proper Form

Bodybuilding is touch and go, powerlifting is with a pause. In both those cases, this does NOT mean “bounce” and go.

Suits and chains are not necessary for 99% of trainees, and even then for many people they’re still not necessary. (Often things like chains are needed only when you’re using a suit, since oyu need to overload the top of the movement.) There is very very little carry over, if any.

Rule 5. Consider Dumbbells

Dumbbells encourage a more natural range of motion, and if you’re over 50, they make more sense. For Scott, for example, a barbell bench press hurts his shoulders even with just the bar.

Dumbbells might also make more sense for people with very long limbs and who don’t need specifically to compete with the barbell bench press.

If the barbell bench press movement hurts, definitely move to dumbbells. This is listening to your body at the absolute most basic.

Links / Resources mentioned

As mentioned, Scott and Kevin have already done a fair amount of videos on this stuff!

Staggered Base of Support: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iib6dHVL0GM

Bench Press Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7kUmzfZhgQ

Bodybuilding Style Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KLLJlnoK7Y

Powerlifting style Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGqhgnojZQk

Kevin’s Compound Lift course: http://smartersculptedphyique.com/kevin

Get access to Kevin’s “In Real-Time” Bench Press course and program as he prepares for his next powerlifting meet!

Episode 8. Sarcopenia, Hormones, Physique After Age 50 and the Platinum Club

Episode 8. Sarcopenia, Hormones, Physique After Age 50 and the Platinum Club

Episode 8. Sarcopenia, Hormones, Physique After Age 50 and the Platinum Club

Show Notes

After the age of 50 it’s still possible to build muscle and lose fat—but there are certain physiological realities (especially hormonal realities) to keep in mind! Things like sarcopenia need to be accounted for. Episode 008 was all about providing a bird’s-eye-view of some of these realities, and what to do to make the most of your body after age 50.

Scott calls fitness after 50 the “Platinum Club.” That is, these don’t have to be your “golden years.” If done right, these can be the platinum years!

Sarcopenia and Hormones and Physique After 50:

  • Scott emphasized the dangers of too much cardio when you’re dealing with sarcopenia and muscle loss.
  • People wonder why they’re finding it hard to keep up with their kids when they’re doing X number of minutes on the treadmill each day or week, but the exercise they’re doing on the treadmill isn’t giving them the kinds of physiological adaptations they clearly want from exercise. They’re missing strength and the ability to exercise their muscles through their intended ranges of motion.
  • Even a bodyweight squat by itself will build a lot of strength.
  • After age 50, you especially want to pay attention to joint health. This means that now machines are your friend!
  • Strength needs to be built through a muscle’s full range of motion, otherwise you’re inviting problems down the road. Don’t add resistance BEFORE you’re able to move the muscle through the full range of motion.
  • Warm ups are very important! See the videos at scottabelfitness.com/warmups (that link redirects to a Youtube video).
  • A proper warm up includes “general preparation” phase that warms up the body, and then actual physical “rehearsal” of the movements you’ll be doing that day. Think warm up sets, that kind of thing. (Again, see the vids.)
  • Scott has had clients whose entire leg workout was unloading the knees, precisely because of the importance of range of motion.
  • Mike mentioned some studies related to cognitive decline. These can be found in John Ratey’s book, Spark! The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
  • Scott is a big fan of HRT as a way of enhancing quality of life. Do research, talk to your doctor.
  • Mike mentioned Scott’s “Base Hit” strategy, where you intelligently go for “base hits” instead of “home runs” every time you step into the gym. Consistency trumps going all-in, then having to stay out of the gym for a week. This is called “active recovery.”
  • You should be leaving the gym invigorated, not “spent.” You still work hard, but it is exercise, not “an exercise in torture.”
  • Consistency trumps intensity, after age 50.

Links / Resources mentioned

Warm Ups Part 1: General Preparation Phase: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHJFV13Njsk

Warm Up Part 2: Physical Rehearsal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHXYvxAU-Hw

Unloading the Knees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mQsVp5TWnk

Scott’s initial Physique Over 50 blog post. (Scroll down for the comments.)

Scott’s Physique Over 50, Platinum Club videos on Youtube: https://youtu.be/ZSGTa_89nhM?list=PLSjhnVS_WEZrVutpYNSlVPQ6WT4jGNAvU

The Base Hit Strategy in blog post form: http://scottabelfitness.com/basehit

Download a PDF of the Base Hit Strategy: