arnold bench press
*this post first appeared on my friend Travis Stoetzel’s blog.

I normally get asked how to build muscle and burn fat; rightfully so, as most dudes I see training in community gyms don’t have a clue. Most guys want a rippin’ 6-pack, cannon-ball delts and to be stronger than their old man but are all going about it the wrong way.

Here are my top answers to questions like this. They have helped me put on 30-lbs after I stopped competing in middle-distance running. I didn’t get muscley-fat as I still have abs and am hovering around 10% body fat.

Here we go…

1) Dial in your technique

 
If your technique is shit, your results will be also. Dial in the basic squat and hip hinge patterns for lower body training and dial in your shoulder pack and neutral spine for your upper body and core exercises. If you can do this, you’ll be miles ahead of everyone else. Hire a coach or trainer and invest in your results.

Read 4 Weight Lifting Tips to Master.

2) Dial in a program that works

 
When I started lifting weight, I thought I was going to bench press and biceps curl 3x/week, no joke. That never happened as I decided to start with a body part split. From that experience and from training clients, that isn’t the best method for beginners. Dudes new to the gym will benefit more from performing exercises more often, rather than once a week as in a body part split. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I decided to go with The Texas Method for beginners. This program is based on Bill Star’s 5×5 protocol. If you want to check it out, look up Practical Programming for Strength by Rippetoe and Kilgore. Once your stop progressing on the beginner program, you can progress to the traditional Texas Method Program, or something similar. Wendler’s 5, 3, 1 is also an awesome program that works.

Read Bulk Fest Muscle Building Workout.

3) Dial in your nutrition

 
RenegadeDietBook3DAYou gotta stop eating like you did when you were 17, unless you want to get fat. Your metabolism starts to slow down, as you get older, so you have to be more conscious about what goes into your stomach. If you want to get big but stay ripped, you’ll have to be patient with your progress and put in the time. You’ll have to eat a calorie surplus, but not too much. If you are really gung-ho, I would recommend trying the Renegade Diet by Jason Ferruggia. This diet incorporates the newly popular intermittent fasting (IF) protocol. I won’t go into detail about it here, you can just buy the book or check out www.LeanGains.com or John Berardi’s free IF ebook.

Essentially, you would fast for 16-hours a day and eat during the remaining 8-hours. The 8-hours is broken up into two 4-hour chunks. In one 4-hour window, you’ll over eat and in the other 4-hour window you’ll under eat. Another plan I like to incorporate is carb-cycling. Here, you would only eat carbohydrate rich foods around workout time. It’s a very simple plan to follow, and I’ve had great success doing it. And if you don’t workout one day, limit your carb intake to almost nothing.

Read more about The Renegade Diet.

4) Dial in your mind

 
There’s more to putting on muscle and getting ripped than just going to the gym and missing breakfast. It’s a complete lifestyle. You’ll have to develop the focus so that all your actions during the day and night take you one step closer to your goals. If they don’t, you’re loosing the battle. It’s not easy looking like Thor, because if it was, you would see Thors walking around all over the place! Try to workout at the same time every day. Prepare your meals so you don’t have to resort to junk. Don’t eat fast food or drink sugary drinks. Don’t get wasted and miss your Saturday morning workouts. Sleep 8 uninterrupted hours a night. Stop thinking about it and make it happen.

5) Dial up and train with a training partner who’s stronger than you

 
rocky-training partner
How are you supposed to get better if you’re not surrounding yourself with stronger dudes? Train with a training partner that has similar goals to you and who has their technique dialed in. You can work off each other and reach levels of size and strength impossible to reach on your own. Don’t choose a buddy that only works out so he can check out the chicks on the treadmill. They must eat, live and breathe just like you or else, they’ll just waist your time.
 

*****

 
LGN365 coverLooking for a badass physique? If you haven’t looked into LGN365, it’s a fantastic resource and program designed and created by my colleague JC Deen. JC and I wrote a popular article for the Greatist called “How to Fix the Most Common Workout Mistakes” last summer. I wouldn’t just collaborate with just any old trainer! JC’s the real deal and this program is awesome.

Find out more of LGN365 HERE.

Happy training and thanks for reading.

Make it happen.

-JK

I started at JKC because my colleagues that go to JKC all look and felt fit and healthy thanks to Jon and Thomas – if JKC helped them, I knew they could do the same for me! I think JKC stands out from other gyms because of their personal touch! They listen to you and help motivate and support. They always believe in my ability progress and learn new exercises. I’ve been training at JKC since January of 2019 and recommend them to anyone looking to learn how to lift weight properly, feel stronger, and improve their health.

I originally joined JKC because I was anxious about passing out and embarrassing myself since I hadn’t weight trained in a while and I’d hoped to find somewhere sympathetic. My husband @terry_hussey had been training at JKC and his success there made me miss the achievement you feel from a good workout. I went to meet Jon and immediately knew it was going to be a safe space for me. I was never judged for the fears I had and where I was starting from. Jon and Thomas made sure to check on me often, and found a way to challenge me but make me feel secure at the same time, and Terry and I were able to book sessions together, so working out became a shared win for us!

JKC is different from other gyms because of the personal growth you have outside JKC (the sessions inside JKC creates a great positive feedback loop!). You gain self confidence, learn how to show up for yourself, meet a community of newfound friends, and get the support of your trainers who are behind you 100%. I’ve left a scattered workout so proud of myself I’ve honestly shed a tear in the car on the drive home. JKC is the mental health relief valve I need to stay positive, and keep my anxiety and health related fears at bay.

I started at JKC in January of 2014 and I’m 67 years old. When I had my Initial Assessment, I knew – almost immediately – that Jon knew what he was doing and what he was talking about. I was overweight, out of shape, and in serious need of someone, like Jon, who could get me back on a fitness/conditioning routine that suited me, my age, my less than acceptable physical condition, my sometimes intermittent RA, and my need for a structured, consistent and yet flexible training and conditioning program that would work for me.

Fundamentally, if I made a choice at all with respect to JKC – it was to continue to come back each week. I have not been in a lot of gyms. To be honest, they used to intimidate me. What makes JKC different is their approach to each and every one of their clients. Jon and Thomas – and now Craig – tailor each training regime to the particular needs of each client. That ensures that the training regime will suit each client upon the start of training and changes as the client improves. It adjusts for any physical setbacks such as injuries and it adjusts for success. It is just that simple.

It is also the consistent encouragement that comes from Jon, Thomas and Craig. That voice that comes to you while you are in the middle of a particularly difficult set – rear-foot elevated split squats comes to mind immediately – that says “good job” or “keep it up” or “just a couple more reps.” To know, in that moment, that you are not alone and the trainer is paying attention to what you are doing. That is priceless for me.

I chose JKC originally to help prevent rowing injuries. I’m a rower and we won the St. John’s Regatta in 2019 but I rowed through a rib stress fracture and missed significant time in the boat during the racing season. Training at JKC consistently since the pandemic helped me stay injury free this year and made me the strongest I’ve ever felt, which helped me help my team win the 2021 St. John’s Regatta! Jon adds variety and mixes the exercises up well so that the workout goes by quickly and strength is gained. The gym is very personable and I like the eclectic mix of people that are there. JKC is much more intimate and personal than other gyms.

I had signed up for other gyms in the past and never went or rarely went. Something always got in the way or I was just too tired and lacked motivation to go. This way I’ve made a commitment to Jon or Thomas and I try very hard to keep my sessions once I’ve booked in. JKC is different from other gyms that I’ve tried in the past because no one is there to be “seen”. We are all there to get a good workout in and go on with our lives. And it’s a small gym so you get to know everyone and it’s like a big family. When I joined JKC, I couldn’t do a chin up with an elastic band, but I’ve slowly worked up to 10 free hanging chin ups. That was big because I hate chin ups.

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