Archive for the ‘Natural Bodybuilding’ Category

8 Little Known Traits of Successful Bodybuilders

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

We all know the “rules” of bodybuilding.  Hard work (intensity), applied consistently over a period of time

will yield significant results.

But some of the best and most impressive bodybuilders have traits that might surprise you. Here’s how having faith, angry and focused (in the right ways) can create breakthrough success on your own body.

1.  Don’t Over Analyze

While listening to another episode of the Skip LaCour podcast, Skip said something that struck home and it’s something I’ve been thinking and noticing for the longest time in my own industry.

The level of knowledge and attention to detail rarely matches the physique.

If it’s your job to know this stuff, by all means learn and if you just thrive on facts and interesting fitness information, by all means, go for it.  Learning is fun but my point is…

Don’t get so caught up in the stuff that doesn’t matter that you forget the basics.

Some of the smartest people I know in this field don’t even look like they train!

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Just train like a madman (or woman), workout hard and do just enough to stimulate growth.  If your program is working for you, forget the validation.  Just keep doing it!

2.  Don’t Know Everything

A lot of times, I think beginners have the BEST advantage.  Their minds are open.  They are willing to listen and try new things.  After some time, reading and training, they start to lose that beginners edge that makes their minds open and ready to absorb like a sponge.  Not knowing everything and keeping an open mind will allow you to move through the journey and not worry about some ultimate destination.

Building muscle and burning fat is not a singular destination that once you reach, that’s all she wrote.  It’s a series of journeys back and forth using different concepts and times of year to keep making progress.  By allowing yourself not to know it all, you actually become smarter and more able to understand concepts and reason better.

All to often I meet somebody who’s not even close to their potential, they are 40 lbs or more off their stated goals and yet, they know more than anybody else.  They know more than many of the experts put together.

What they don’t understand is they’ve learn some good things and some bad and aren’t able to ditch the bad stuff and keep learning because once you’ve told yourself you know it all.  Your mind shuts off to new or different information that could otherwise help you.

You don’t have to be a beginner physically for that long but if you can keep the beginners mindset, you’ll be smarter than most.

3.  Get Mad Once and While

Vent!  Get angry and use that anger to direct it towards actively doing something about it.  Better yet, use that pent up angst to workout harder in the gym and take it out on the weights.  Working out is a super stress reliever.  Stress is a killer, literally.

It’s okay to get mad and use that frustration to push yourself.  Being frustrated or angry becuase something isn’t happening in your physique is okay.

4.  Stop Trying to Discount and Debunk Every Theory

It’s fine to have some clarity and certainty in what you are doing.  Spending excessive amounts of time debating and debunking every training theory or new program is mostly a quest for validation that whatever you are doing is the right thing to do.  It becomes self-justification.

Some of the most successful bodybuilders I know don’t know everything about nutrition or how muscle grows.  They just follow the basics and make significant progress.  They don’t spend hours trying to prove their theories (unless they have a theory).  They just do it.

I’m not really worried if deadlifts should be done on a back day or a leg day or if there is a slightly better way to squat if I don’t go to parallel.  I’ve seen message forum threads about protein deprivation go on for over 10 pages from people (who I don’t know their credentials) attempt to prove it cannot work.

5.  Break the Unbreakable Rules

Give yourself some wiggle room.  Let’s put it this way, if you skip 1 workout in a 7 day week, you just missed 14%!  That same workout in a year is only .2%.  Which is so minor, you’ve never know about it and it does not matter.

Skip a week and you’ve missed 100% of your potential progress.  That same week is roughly 0.3% in 6 years.

Put things into perspective.  Consistency is the backbone of progress.  It’s what will make your physique change over years and have your family and friends asking for your super secret plan.  What “illegals” you took to get huge or what diet you followed to lose the baby fat.

Give yourself some room to make mistakes.  You miss a meal?  Big deal.  You didn’t drink your allotted water for the day?  So what.  You missed legs?  Oh no how will you survive!  Don’t make a habit of breaking the rules (that’s called inconsistency) but missing some stuff here and there is not a deal breaker.

6.  Take a Leap of Faith

Sometimes it is just good to follow a new program or nutritional idea to the letter.  Instead of worrying if it will work or the reasons why it can’t work, just follow it.  Don’t ask questions initially.  Later you can take the results and introduce your own perceptions and feelings.  Instead of saying that a certain rep range cannot build muscle, just try it.  Take a leap of faith and see if the concept turns into real world results.

While everybody is different there are fundamentals and principles that work for everybody all of the time.  Debating, over analyzing eventually leads to paralysis.

Once you have reach the point where you can no longer try anything new because it goes against what you know to be true, that’s when you will cease to make progress.

When I start a new training program that I think will work based on what I’ve read, I look for some certainty and validation but I follow it to the letter.  I don’t ask questions.  I don’t e-mail the author and argue why it cannot work.  I try it and if it works, I keep it for later use.  If not, I toss it out.  I’ve saved countless hours and headaches not wasting my time trying to prove somebody wrong when in the end, all it would truly be is validation that whatever I’m doing at the time is the right thing to do.

To be honest, nobody know exactly how muscle is built.  All we know is that the right amount of stimulation, not too much and not too little, is how it grows through weight training.

7.  Forget Genetics and Focus on You

I can’t tell you how many e-mails and phone consultations I’ve done when the 2nd question is about genetics and the potential to succeed.  Whenever that question comes up, I know right away the person is doomed if they can’t change their line of thinking.

“Genetics do not matter to the natural bodybuilder.  But your genetics will only take you so far in competition.” - Hugo A. Rivera, CFT, SPN, BSCE

If you are and plan on being a natural bodybuilder, then this question truly deserves no answer.

If you plan on stepping on stage, then genetics can be a factor (among other things) but if you let that slip into your mind and it brings about negative thoughts, that is far more damaging than having the perfect wrist size or bone structure.

Some of the males and females I personally know who stepped on stage and did fantastic were not the most genetically gifted people.  They felt they didn’t have the bone structure for true bodybuilding but it didn’t’ matter to them.  They didn’t live within limits and they never worried about genetics.

Some of the most genetically gifted people I know (they look at a weight and grow muscle) never put forth any effort into bodybuilding and many people who you would never look at them twice have far surpassed their genetic rivals.

It’s an unknown factor that nobody can answer.

8.  Don’t Pay Too Much Attention to the Latest Training/Nutrition Flavor of the Month

Now I love to give advice here at BodybuildingSecretsLive, and I personally benefited hugely from several fitness experts advice before I ever started writing here.

It’s great to absorb how-to articles that speak to you, and to try new programs. But at the end of the day, the thing that makes your physique great is you. Don’t get so caught up in minor details or some new hyped of program that you forget what makes your body change (hard work, consistency, time).  The basis.

The most “perfect” training program in the world would be deathly dull.  Great workouts are quirky, weird, and challenging–just like interesting people are.

Learn the fundamental rules, get advice, then be passionate about your goals and see what happens. If you get a wild hair, go ahead and try it.  You might love it, your body might hate it.  The great thing about a bodybuilding is, there’s always another workout tomorrow.

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”

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Good Mornings or Good Night?

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Although I can’t say I’ve seen Good Mornings done in quite some time, I know that growing up I saw plenty of pictures of how a proper Good Morning should be done. If I had more then 3 wishes left in this lamp, I wish that somebody would go find every book and every website with this exercise and cross it out with a Sharpie pen.  This is one exercise that almost everybody gets wrong.

Case Study #1:

WPvideo 1.10

I have a very good friend, who will remain nameless, that gave me another tidbit of advice. He’s been instrumental in helping me train legs. I’ve never pushed myself so hard. So when he gives advice, I know it’s coming from a reliable source that’s much better then any scientific study.

He began with some good mornings. At first it was the bar. Then it was 20 lbs. on each side. Pretty soon he was doing 225 lbs. That’s a lot of weight. But having the strength to do it and the youth, he pushed on. Until one day, POP! Forward he went, with 225 lbs. How he didn’t break his neck is somewhat of a miracle.

Case Study #2:

WPvideo 1.10

As with any exercise, and the motivation of a bodybuilder, we will continue to push ourselves to new limits.  There are many other options for compound movements that do the same thing but with much less of a risk. So skip the good mornings and try some dead-lifts or stiff-legged dead-lifts. You won’t be missing out on anything by skipping the good mornings except maybe weeks of recovery or a broken neck if you don’t do them right or forget this is an isolation movement and not a compound.

Now I’ve been hounded since the day I first recommended against doing the exercise called “Good Mornings.”  I personally find you can build up a strong lower back using many other, safer exercises.  But in all fairness, you can do these correctly if you let go of that silly mentality to load up the bar every week as if you were trying to set a new bench press record.  It’s an isolation exercise and while other muscles are involved, it’s still considered an isolation exercise for the low back muscle group.

But I was able to find just one.. ONE.. video showing the proper technique.  I found over 40 videos on YouTube of fully loaded bars that were nothing more than really bad squats.

Video of Good Mornings Done Right
(opens in a new window)

Proper Technique:

  1. Place a barbell on your shoulders
  2. Keep your head up and your back straight
  3. Bend at the waist with your legs locked until your upper body is parallel to the floor
  4. Return slowly to the standing position


  • Can also be done with the knees slightly bent
  • Technique over weight
  • Using lighter weight
  • Not bouncing
  • Not using momentum
  • Not trying to do some modified squat or glute thrust
  • Slow, controlled, focused on lower back

While you won’t personally catch me doing a Good Morning exercise in my gym, that doesn’t mean they cannot be done correctly.  From the last video above, they can and if you are one of those people that must try every exercise, then keep those points in mind.  I would never wish a back injury upon anybody.

Here’s hoping you stay injury free,

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”

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Weight Gain Tips You Should Never Follow

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Stupid Weight Gain Tips

Do you find yourself wanting to gain weight but frustrated with how to do it?  If you’ve ever been a hardgainer, a skinny guy or gal and wanted to pack on the muscle, there’s things you can do that will get you to your goal.  But there’s plenty of awful advice being given.  It seems like a common sense thing but to those who are desperate to pack on the pounds, at the time it seems like okay advice.  Then you step back, get some perspective and some education and it’s like a Homer Simpson “doh!”  The light comes on and you realize how bad the advice was and that it just set you back even further.

Before I start off the Top 10 list, I want to make it clear that it’s not my intention to only point out the mistakes and then offer up no solutions.  Too many times when I’m in the gym, I hear somebody telling their buddy “Shame on you,” or “That’s why you aren’t able to gain weight,” or “Don’t do it like that!,” and then they offer up nothing as a solution.  I’m going to spend 1% on the mistake but I want to spend 99% of my time on the solution to this bad advice so you can learn as quickly as possible what to do without wasting any more time.  I’ll offer up the weight gain tip mistake and follow it up with a better solution to the problem.

When you are trying to gain weight it usually starts off with a question like this…

Anyone have any “home remedies” or suggestions that can help me put on a few pounds?

And then the bad advice flows like the water thru a huge crack in a dam.

I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants when I read a Best Answer on Yahoo Answers to a common weight gain question.

“If you want to gain a lot of weight, you should eat a lot of junky foods. (Chips, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.) But if you don’t wanna get super duper fat then you should very rarely swim and jump rope when you are finished eating.”

Read that again folks, this is a common style of answer that gets the BEST VOTE on major network sites with millions of eyes.   Remember that hardgainers, don’t swim much and jump rope after you eat.   I bet that’s how Ronnie Coleman got so huge!  Damn him for not telling us sooner.

Here’s a short list of the Top 10 Stupidest Weight Gain Tips I’ve ever seen.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #1: Eat Fast Food

By far the most popular piece of advice given to nearly all individuals struggling with weight gain.  The first piece of advice they get is to rush out and start slamming down cheap, low quality foods, including eating butter and drinking vegetable oil!  If a person is “underweight”, they should deny NOTHING and eat EVERYTHING.; McDonalds and KFC included. Does it work?  You bet it does but it’s not the kind of quality weight you want to gain (although some people don’t seem to care what the weight is as long as they gain it which is puzzling) If you are looking to pack on muscle, you can eat a lot but going the fast food route is typical of the lazy bodybuilder.   It’s a low class move that certainly has it’s place in some circles but if you are wondering how to gain weight, learn the right way.  There’s a good list of how to gain weight in six simple steps.  If you eat enough high quality calories, frequently enough, you will put on quality muscle mass in conjunction with weight training.  Eating unhealthy foods will not build muscle quicker.  Take a few minutes to learn the very basics of how to gain weight and avoid the shortcut of eating junk foods and fast foods thinking it somehow is the fast way to build muscle.  It’s not.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #2: Candy, Candy Candy

In high school I asked the biggest guy in the gym who just stacked the Nautilus bench press how to gain weight.  He looked at me seriously and said, “Eat a Snickers bar.  Eat candy.  Lots of calories.  You’ll gain weight.” Now if he was joking, it didn’t look like it but being desperate and frustrated, I did what he told me.  Every day after gym, I’d eat candy.  Being skinny, I didn’t put on any serious weight but I did get a cavity and I didn’t learn a thing about eating healthy.   The solution for extra calories via snacking would have been healthy fat options like almonds or peanuts.  They can add some serious calories if you need them without the ill effects of just eating junk foods that have empty calories and barely any nutritional value.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #3: Fruit Juices

Tons of liquid calories and completely processed to it’s lowest form.  Now 100% fruit juice can be healthy without a doubt but drinking liquid calories is going to do literally nothing for serious long term weight gain.  The truth is, it’s a lot of sugar with little value in packing on weight through proteins and starchy carbohydrates.  Drink juice if you want but it’s not a weight gain solution. What you can do as a solution is to make a fruit juice smoothie for extra calories and add in other weight gaining substances like peanut butter, protein powders that will add calories to your overall nutritional plan.  Use this with caution as it’s easy to overeat and anything not utilized, can be stored as fat.  In essence, you can make your own homemade weight gainer at a fraction of the cost.  If you want to know more about making your own supplements, see Homemade Supplement Secrets.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #4: Accept It, It’s In Your Genes

If you are skinny, count your lucky starts but it’s not in the cards for you to be muscular.  I’ve seen it and heard it as weight gain advice being given.  Beyond genetics, your potential to gain weight can be changed! If you are a skinny guy, it will take some work but you can pack on serious muscle mass.  Starting off in high school, I didn’t weight over 135 lbs on any day.  Now I’m easily at 191 lbs without having to put forth the effort you’d think to maintain the mass.  It was hard work but through proper nutrition, tracking what I ate, knowing how many calories a day to eat, I did pack on lean body mass over a period of 6 month.  It was amazing and all I needed was to avoid the short term solutions in this list and start EATING, eating good foods and eating frequently.  You don’t have to accept it and it is not genetics to be skinny all your life. 99% of skinny, hardgainers truly haven’t tried putting forth the effort.  They quickly buy into the genetics statement and give up.  Start learning how many calories you need and then start eating, taking a cooler to work or whatever to pack in the food.  Forget weight gainers and shakes (they have a purpose) and start eating.

Take this DARE

Step 1: Go to FitDay

Step 2: Input everything you eat for 3 days

Step 3: Evaluate it

For example, you might be shocked to see that you need 3600 calories to gain weight and in reality, you are only eating a mere 1800 and playing 5 hours of basketball.  That’s why you are skinny.  Not genetics.  A little tracking to bring reality into the situation can go a long way to providing you critical insight as to why you aren’t gaining weight.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #5: Weight Gainer 4000… BEEFCAKE!

Frankly it’s a quick, expensive way to be lazy for those who haven’t invested any time in attempting to consume enough calories.  Weight gainers (Slim Fast Shakes, Ensure) have value, there’s little doubt in my mind but more often than not, the people who use them are under eating to begin with and quickly latch on to what they have been told is a “healthy” way to quickly add the calories they need.  If you are eating enough calories, it’s useful in circumstances to add in thousands of calories that you cannot otherwise get through foods without seriously spending 8 hours a day eating.  For most, they barely eat 3 meals and add in 3 weight gainers and see some results.  But as quickly as the results come, they stop taking it and lose the weight.  Relying on a weight gainer when you are trying to gain weight is a serious mistake.  Once you are eating enough whole foods or if you seriously cannot get the calories you need per day but come close, that’s where a weight gainer makes sense.  But not as an excuse to pack on pounds because packing a lunch and a few snacks is to time consuming.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #6: Protein Overload

Who hasn’t been told that the only way to gain weight is to increase your protein intake.  Unfortunately, excessive protein is not going to pack on the weight.   Getting enough protein per day as required to build muscle is easy… getting enough calories per day isn’t.  Once your body has enough, protein will be stored as fat (although less likely) or excreted.  Protein sources like chicken, fish and lean red meats don’t have enough calories for most of us skinny people to hit our numbers.  So the old adage to “get your protein” works to some degree but it’s not the ideal food for your calorie requirements.  The solution is to increase your carbohydrates and change your macronutrient ratios to reflect this.  All too often I see a nutrition plan that is 55% protein, 30% carbs and 15% fats.  Once the individual changes it to 55% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fats, it makes a world of difference.  By consuming higher quality carbs like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, yams, whole wheat pastas, whole grain breads and brown rice to name a few, you suddenly up your calorie intake by hundreds and start to gain weight.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #7: Inadequate Water Consumption

Your body is around 70% water.  All too often, the skinny guy or gal isn’t drinking water.  Not nearly enough and any liquids being consumed are in the form of energy drinks, coffee, shakes or soda.  None of which are actually going to be a replacement for good old, plain water.  In order for your body’s functions to process the protein, foods and to hydrate the cells, you must consume enough water.  Simply by increasing your water intake, you can start to put on weight and not just water weight.  How much water should you drink can be complex or as quick as taking your current body weight, divide that in half and drink that much in ounces per day.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #8: Spouting High Calorie Requirements

Oh you are skinny?  You need to eat 3600 calories per day.  Huh?  You know nothing about this person, their age, their current weight, their body composition and yet you toss down a number as if 3600 is the magic number of skinny people to gain weight?  If you go from 1800 calories a day to some number that’s too high, you’ll find it nearly impossible to eat that much food if you are not used to it and anything in excessive can be stored as fat.  The solution is simple.  Figure out roughly how many calories a day you need to eat now, to gain weight and when you start gaining weight, adjust that on a weekly or monthly basis given your new body composition.  Just eating a ton of food, randomly without any reference point will either lead to excessive fat gains and/or a total abandonment of the process when you start to hate eating that much food in one sitting without having the body mass or the activity levels to support it.

Just because Michael Phelps can eat an entire menu for breakfast doesn’t mean you can or should given that you don’t swim 5-6 hours a day and aren’t an Olympic level athlete.  Eat based on your needs and your goals, not some fake numbers or how somebody who clearly isn’t you, eats.  Make eating personal.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #9: Train Like An Bull, Eat Like a Flea

The smallest guy at my gym that easily does 23 pull-ups and trains like an animal, couldn’t tell me what he ate for breakfast but when directly asked, he gave the typical skinny guy response.  “I eat a lot.” Like what I asked.  He looked puzzled.  I told him to take the Dare in Tip #4 above.  When I saw him again, 1 day later and asked, he said he’d get to it later that week.  That’s why he’s skinny and can’t gain weight.  He trains hard and trains consistently but the other 23 hours of the day, who knows.  He doesn’t even know.  His nutrition doesn’t support his weight training endeavors to pack on mass.  Vince Gironda once said that bodybuilding is 80% nutrition.  That means, you can have a pretty lousy weight training routine and if you eat properly and eat enough, you’ll look very good.  But in most cases, people train hard and then fail to support the training they just did through proper nutrition and with enough calories.  Are you one of those people?  You train hard but totally fail when it comes to nutrition?  You grow when you are out of the gym.  You spend 1 hour training and the other 23 hours recovering and supporting that growth thru nutrition.  It’s important!  If you train like an animal and eat like a flea, correct that ASAP and you’ll see some immediately gains in weight and muscle mass.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #10: Not Eating Enough

By far the most common weight gain mistake and the best weight gain tips of them all.  Eat but don’t just eat anything and everything in site.  No drinking vegetable oil or eating butter.  Gaining weight is about eating just a little more calories than you currently need to maintain your current weight over a pro-longed period of time to put on mass slowly.  Rapid weight gain is not only hard on the heart and other organs but it usually leads to excessive body fat increases.  Taking the time to calculate your calories, eat frequently during the day and engaging in a proper weight training routine is all it takes to start seeing results.  Most skinny individuals truly believe they have tried everything to gain weight when in fact they have skipped the most important steps to weight gain.

#1: Calculating your daily calorie requirements

#2: Tracking what you eat

Just eating or guessing is a surefire way to stay skinny. It takes effort and some simple calculations but soon enough you will be putting on weight.  Short of a medical issue or some other rare, unforeseen problem, there’s no reason why you are any different from the rest of us skinny guys who learned how to gain weight by using some common sense weight gain tips.  Don’t follow the advice that preaches shortcuts.  I’ve tired them all (except the vegetable oil) and none of them worked for me in the long term.

If you want more weight gain tips and advice on how to build muscle, head over and grab your copy of the “19 Tips to Build 5 Pounds of Muscle in 30 Days.”

Until next time, I hope you are eating!

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”

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Build Bigger Biceps and Triceps in 7 Minutes

Friday, September 12th, 2008
Boyer Coe - Champion Bodybuilder of the Golden Age

Boyer Coe

There is some debate among bodybuilders about the best way to build your biceps. Is it high volume training? High intensity training? Exercising the biceps twice a week? Here’s what I’ve done to personally put on .25 inches on my biceps in just 4 brief, 7 minute workouts…

If you’ve struggled trying to put size on your biceps and triceps, this could be the most interesting article you’ve about to read.  Many people would like more muscular arms and so they have a notion that they need to do more volume training.

Soon enough, you find yourself working your biceps and triceps twice a week for 60 minutes!  Of course, you don’t notice much in terms of progress and you wonder what else you can do.

But first a word of caution:  This routine isn’t for beginners.  It’s for advanced trainees who know their body, who can and will engage in high intensity work and have an open mind.

If you have 7 minutes, twice a week, this is a 4 week plan that is guaranteed to put a quarter inch on your biceps.  Maybe more, maybe less but one thing is for sure.  It’s going to be tough.

Introducing the Unvarnished Arm Routine!

Take a step back in time and meet Boyer Coe who won the 1969 AAU Mr. America and the 1969 NABBA Mr. Universe.  Boyer is said to be one of the first athletes to use this unique arm routine.  He’s also said to have biceps and triceps that were too big for his body.  A problem many males would welcome.

If you’ve ever thought of getting your arms too big for your body, then this may very well be the routine that pushes them over the edge.

The Unvarnished Routine:

* One-repetition chin up, immediately followed by
* Standing biceps curl with barbell
* One minute rest
* One-repetition dip, immediately followed by
* Standing triceps extension with one dumbbell

While this already seems simple enough, take the time to familiarize yourself with each part of this routine.  Done correctly, in precise form, you’ll work every muscle fiber in the shortest amount of time possible.  Some theories say the higher the intensity, in a short amount of time, leads to the biggest growth in muscle.  Let me explain the routine.

Biceps Cycle:

One-Repetition Chin Up:  The one repetition chin up isn’t just a single rep in your standard, leg swinging, gravity assisted, typical gym-goer.  This is a 60 seconds up and 60 seconds down single rep.

You may need to read that again but I did say it is 60 seconds up and 60 seconds down.

Immediately going into the next exercise…

Standing Biceps Curl: Just like it sounds.  You finish your one repetition chin up and you immediately do a barbell biceps curl for 8 reps.  The weight you use will be slightly different and you’ll need to keep that in mind.  Boyer Coe is said to have done his bicep curl with 100 lbs for 8 strict reps.  Any person that can do the same is not only beyond strong but in amazing cardiovascular shape.  You may want to underestimate your own strength and take something you know you could for 8 reps cold and use 60% of that weight.

Now take a one minute rest after your biceps workout and get ready because in just 60 seconds, you are doing the same concepts for you triceps.

Triceps Cycle:

One-Repetition Dip: Starting off from the rock bottom position, you slowly move yourself up, inch by inch in 60 seconds.  Once at the top, it’s 60 seconds to the bottom position of the dip.  Body weight is fine.  No weight needed.

Immediately going into the next exercise….

Standing Triceps Extension: Grab your dumbbell of choice and do 8 repetitions of a strict, standing dumbbell triceps extension.  If you normally can do 80 to 100 pounds cold, you might want to use something around 50-55 lbs.  According to Coe, he used 55 lbs and it felt like a ton.  If you can’t even get close to 8 reps, or your cheating the weight up, it’s way to heavy.

If there ever was a time to leave your ego at the door, it’s with this routine.  Doing as much weight as possible will not get you the results you want.  Be realistic.

Tips for Getting the Best Results:

* Get your barbell ready and your dumbbell for the triceps extension in place.
Once you finish your 60 second chin up and dip, you’ve got to move quickly.  As in 2 seconds or less to the next exercise.  Having the equipment in place ensures there is no hold up if you have to wait for the equipment or setup the
exercise.  It’s all ready to go.

* Move slowly during the chin up and dip. Go inch by inch.  Whatever length of time it takes to get to the top, that’s the goal for getting to the bottom.  30 seconds up and 30 seconds down will be most difficult for most but a reasonable goal to start this challenge.

* Get a friend to call out the time. It will take enough out of you to actually do the exercise.  It’s almost impossible to count in your mind or focus on a clock.  It’s 100% easier if you can leave the time keeping up to a spotter or friend and focus on the chin up and dip.  You won’t need time keeping for the biceps curl or the triceps extension.

* Following this routine exactly as outlined. You might feel after some rest you can do it again.  Don’t.  Also, don’t make the mistake of warming up too much when doing this as it takes so much on the initial try, that a bunch of warm ups will only serve to make that first chin up impossible.

* Perform this routine twice a week for two consecutive weeks. After that, discontinue it’s use, go back to your normal routine and keep this one around for use again in a couple of weeks.

In just seven minutes from now, you could be putting inches on your biceps in a most non-traditional method.  This routine was used by Boyer Coe and became one of the many HIT routines in existence today.  It’s the less is more approach but don’t be fooled.  This routine is as tough if not tougher than 45 minutes
in the gym blasting your biceps.

In 2006, Dr. Ellington Darden, the author of “The New Bodybuilding for Old-School Results” concluded a test on 38 men and 2 women.  They signed up to participate in this 2 week Bigger-Arms Challenge.  The average starting arm size was 14.5 inches.

The routine was exactly as described above with the addition on week 2, a negative only chin up and a negative only dip.  All the participants did the 2 or 3 exercises, twice a week for those 2 weeks.  Then the results were delivered by each participant.

In just 2 weeks, from 4 brief, 7 minute workouts, the average gain for each arm was 0.21 of an inch!  That’s from just 4 brief workouts.

Now grab your stopwatch and go see if you can’t put almost a quarter inch on your biceps!

Don’t shy away from the 100% effort and you will get excellent results.

Video Lesson: 3 Steps to Bigger Biceps

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Advanced “Mass Building” Technique Discovered!

Click Here

You won’t believe this training technique when you see it!

But the “before and after” pictures don’t lie!

Forget what you THOUGHT you knew about building muscle…this breaks ALL the rules!

- Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”

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10 Reasons You Are Not a Successful Bodybuilder

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Photo Credit: Pasma

Most people want to be successful. They set goals and then the hard work begins to reach those goals. But the real question is what is success? Bodybuilding success can mean different things to different people.

For example, my friend Jeff Anderson doesn’t define success as himself being some mass monster. He defines it thru the e-mails, phone calls and letters he receives from clients that are thrilled with their results from the programs he creates. Other bodybuilders are focused on their own personal progress and only consider something a success if they win a bodybuilding show. Again, another defines success based on how they look and what personal records they can beat. Or a person might define success as losing fat and once again enjoying life and being able to do things with their children.

Success comes in all different shapes and sizes but has one thing in common with all the above examples regardless of race, gender, age, religion, etc.

Success is important and it takes work to reach.

No matter how you define your specific success when it comes to building muscle, burning fat or just getting into better shape, here’s a list of 10 things that can make you into your own bodybuilding success story. These are ways to better yourself as a person, proven methods that all the pros use to reach their success potential.

1.  Realize Your Potential

In order to succeed at anything, you need to see that you have the potential to reach your goals. Just think about that for a second. You cannot change your potential – but it’s probably greater than you think. Sure, we classify people into ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs but you can change that quality. Just the other day, somebody referred to me as “the big guy.” When I was 130 lbs soaking wet in high school, I never ever was called the big guy. In any situation! I’ve learned in 17 years of bodybuilding that I’ve still not reached my potential.

2.  Don’t Look Back

Who doesn’t have mistakes when it comes to training or nutrition? I’ve made my living telling other people how to avoid the same ones I did. But don’t dwell on them. Be sure to learn from them but don’t get stuck in the past and focused on all the things you did wrong as that leads to you just staying put where you are and in a rut. Look forward and vow the next meal or the next workout, you won’t make the same errors. Learn from your mistakes but don’t relive them.

3.  Dare to Dream

Let me explain. When I was in the gym last Friday, I overheard this one guy telling his buddy he’d “never reach 230 lbs because nobody natural our size can do that.” If you believe that, more than likely it will come true. You’ve squashed your dreams and you’ve put a limit on your potential. Both things nobody, not even a gene specialist can tell you! You want to be ripped, huge, muscular.. then dream it. Ever night when I was living at home with my parents I dreamed of two things. First, to own a ride a motorcycle. Second, to be muscular and big. In my opinion, I got both. I rode for many years and I’m 190 lbs today, something I never ever thought was possible because I was just too small from the start.

4.  Body Plan

Create a Bodybuilding Plan as your very first step if you are planning to build a house. The Body Plan will consist of nutrition, training, mental and mindset techniques and supplement options, everything about your goal. This is by far the most important aspect of all. In order to reach your goals, you need to know exactly where you are today and what you intend to do to reach your goals. Know what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, how to train, what to train, and more. You’ve heard a million times that you never want to step foot in the gym without a plan. Having a plan for all aspects of your bodybuilding endeavors ensures you will get there. Every single person I know who’s failed, frustrated and complained, when I asked them for their specific plan. Didn’t have one!

5.  Don’t Give Up

Heck, if I gave up after making all the mistakes I did, getting e-mails from people telling me I don’t know jack crap about fitness, I’d yank the cord on my computer, eat all day, watch TV and just work for a paycheck. Oh wait.. then I’d be like most people who give up. Don’t give up. If you are 120 lbs or 400 lbs reading this right now, it’s totally possible for you to change and shape your body as you desire. To reach success, you have to persevere. Even Thomas Edison had to learn this. When he was creating the incandescent light bulb, it took him more than 10,000 times to get it right. Keep striving even when it becomes challenging.

6.  Have An Unstoppable Attitude

Listen, if you want to lose 40 lbs or more of fat or become the best bodybuilder you can in your weight class, you can’t let other people or little things get in your way. You need to have determination. With good intentions, there may be a close friend or family member that feels it would be better if you focused your attention in another direction. Uphold your unstoppable attitude, determined to succeed. Or if you prefer, give up and then talk about how you tried your best to build muscle or off the fat and just be happy at home complaining. Fact: Every single person who’s lost the weight or went from zero to hero in terms of muscle has not be stopped by somebody else. They wanted it so bad that the frustrations and failures didn’t deter them. They kept at it until they found that “ah-ha” moment like learning how to ride a bike for the first time.

7.  Stop the Complaining

Let’s face it, you start talking negative and telling somebody how you are just too busy at work to get in shape or you are too tired to hit the gym, then it’s not really a shock if you never reach your goals. Take that negative energy and if need be get mad! Then direct it towards doing something about it. You might think there is no correlation between complaining and success when in fact there is a connection. When you are spending time complaining about the obstacles you are facing, you are wasting so much time being negative that you are actually loosing chances to move forward. Instead of thinking of challenges as problems, think of them as opportunities.

8.  Focus on Something You Like

It’s simple. If you like nutrition, focus on learning more about it. If you hate it, then learn the very basics and leave it at that. As much as I love bodybuilding, I don’t care for the scientific mumbo-jumbo these meatheads use when it comes to building muscle. Nobody truly knows to be honest and I couldn’t care less. I focused on the exercises, workouts, and meal plans I like and make it interesting. To increase your chance of succeeding, you should concentrate your efforts on something you enjoy. If you HATE doing cardio on the machines, then swim, play basketball, hike. Find an activity you like and make it into a workout. Make it fun. If you dislike doing something so much, you’ll come up with a million excuses not to do it.

9.  No Shortcuts

Make no mistake, bodybuilding isn’t for the lazy. If you have no time for it, you won’t succeed. If you can’t make time for health, health will make time for you soon enough (and not in a good way). I receive several e-mails a month from people telling me why they can’t do something but they want to be the next Jay Cutler or America’s Top Model. So sorry guys and gals but there’s no shortcuts to something that requires hard work. Even you males out there that think.. “He’s on steroids.” Still, it’s not like they are lazy and not working hard. An old cliché states, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” This should be your motto. When you want to succeed, you cannot afford to take shortcuts. Taking shortcuts leads to imperfection and inadequacies and potentially injuries.

10.  Share Your Success

Although this may be more at the end of the process, it is important. When you finally do reach your goal, use your experience to teach, guide, and mentor others so that they too might succeed. What worked for you? How did you do it? People learn from others and while you might think you struggled, most of us who have reached a goal, struggled to get there as well. Lend a helping hand, give some tips and tricks you used to get where you are today.

11.  Toxic Poisoning

No, we are not talking about colon cleansing or other b.s. subjects but toxic people that can poison. Unfortunately, it would be great if close friends or co-workers could share in your success but all too often, there will be someone who is either dealing with the “green monster” of jealousy or has a case of the “I knew that” syndrome. If you are serious about reaching your goal and being successful, you will need to rid your life of these people. While you may not be able to get them out of your life completely, you should avoid them as best as possible. If this is a person, you see every day, keep your goals to yourself, and avoid that specific subject.

There is no better gratification than being successful. Accept that you are in for some hard work but the results will be incredible. Use these tips as guidelines and step outside the box. Take action and succeed!

Got a success story of your own? Post a comment below and Share It! I’d love to know if these tips or what tips you used to reach your goals. So would others.

Here’s to your NoBull Unstoppable Attitude,

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”

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Weight Loss Tips To Get Shredded

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
Shredded Abs

There's No Shortcuts to a Six Pack

Here’s my Top 4 Weight Loss Tips for men or women who want to burn the fat and feed the muscle.

  1. Get your workouts done quickly. Start using Supersets if you aren’t already. You’ll get more work done in less time and truthfully, you’ll bump up your metabolism and increase your rate of fat burning while working out with weights.
  2. Interval training. There’s some strong evidence to show that doing interval training can help burn more fat in less time. While I do believe that, I mix my workouts up to have some cardio sessions at a moderate intensity for 40 minutes and other sessions will be high intensity styles. It’s definitely something to look into if you are trying to strip away body fat. I’d even go so far as to say if you are advanced, you do add 2 sessions per day for no more than 30 days. I’m a firm believer in the less is more approach but sometimes when you are doing less, you have a lot of areas when you can tweak your cardiovascular program and use it as a fat stripping tool.
  3. Make weight resistance your #1 priority. As you build more muscle, your metabolism will increase. This means, if you put on a pound of muscle, you could burn approximately 30-35 extra calories per hour because of that (varies for conditions and is not set in stone).  The more muscle you can build, the leaner you will become. If your goal is to build muscle or burn fat, weight training needs to be the foundation of your program.
  4. Dial in your nutrition. Make your meals at home and ensure you are eating 5-6, smaller but frequent performance meals. There’s quite a lot you can do when it comes to nutrition from carbohydrate cycling, nutrient ratio manipulation or just generally tightening up your diet to eliminate processed foods. All too often people have so-so nutritional habits and immediately look to a fat burner, some diet tea or detoxification formula when all it really would take it a few minutes analyzing your current eating plan and making some minor adjustments.

Sure, there’s a heck of a lot more to it than just these 4 little tips but let me leave you with this.

The ONE thing that literally saved me was something Dave Draper said in his book, “Brother Iron, Sister Steel.”


“There are no secrets. You simply have basic God-given genetics, body chemistry and bone structure. And provided the attributes of discipline and determination, you apply yourself full bore, and your body potential emerges, slow and sure.” - Dave Draper


Women Who Lift Weights Turn Into Men?

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Female Bodybuilders

There’s a big myth that women have to train different then men. They don’t. They can lift weights, do the same exercise, build a little muscle, become stronger and still be 100% female. Building muscle isn’t all that easy right? You don’t just do some weights and have a 21″ inch arms the next month.

My point is…

Women can do the same things as men do. And even lift heavy if they desire to grow muscle rather then maintain.

A little muscle tone is not a bad thing right? And the only way to grow muscle is to stimulate it. I’m not suggesting females go bench 315 lbs tomorrow but there’s no need to grab the pink weights and do 100 reps either while they sit there looking unchallenged and bored.

If they are worried about a particular body part taking over and making them out of proportion, then just hit them lightly and focus on the rest of the body. Just maintain them. Do not push or challenge them and they will just stay the same while the rest of her body grows, adapts and changes to fit her desired look.

I see women all the time at the gym with the tiniest weight. Because they don’t want to get big and bulky like a man. But they also look bored and just doing it because somebody told them lifting weights was something they should do.

Unless your one of the few females that has as much testosterone as most men, it’s not going to happen.

A key to muscle growth is testosterone. Females do not have high levels of it, therefore, even if they worked out like men do, with heavy weights, she is not going to suddenly become manly, bulky and bulging with muscles.

Granted, there are some females who do have high levels but it’s pretty rare. Don’t worry…

Despite what you may have heard… there’s really no such thing as toning. I’m sure to get flack for that statement but let me explain. There’s three things you can do to a muscle.

-Build it

-Maintain it

-Lose it

Toning is really for most people, the process of building muscle so there’s something to show… and once they are happy with the appearance, they maintain it. For all these reasons…

It’s important to understand that when you pick up a weight, the main goal is to work the muscle. If it’s not at all challenging, then why bother? Resistance training has a purpose. To keep your muscles healthy, your bones strong and your mobility. The older you get, the more muscle you want as it will keep you living healthier. And the older you get the more muscle you tend to los’e. Another reason to build muscle thru your life and not let it wither away because of atrophy.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself! Many women are worried about getting bulky if they workout weight weights.

There’s a simple solution to that. How about just build muscle until she’s satisfied with her appearance. Once she reaches that level, she can back off and just maintain. At that point, there’s no need to stimulate new muscle growth but you can use resistance training to maintain an appearance.

This is where ‘toning’ comes in. Toning to me at least, means maintaining the muscle’s natural tone thru resistance. Keeping it in the shape it is currently.

Also keep in mind that a muscle will appear more tone when body fat is removed from the area.

So that’s why cardio is an important aspect as well if she is looking to lean up. But as I’ve said before, there can be such a thing as too much cardio. So no need for marathon sessions please.

Bottom line…

In general women do not need any different routines then a man. It’s the myth that has been around forever that men lift weights, women do cardio. It’s simply wrong.

About the Author: Marc David is the editor of BodybuildingSecretsLive and author of NoBull Bodybuilding and Shredded Abs. Get more from Marc on Twitter.


How to Build Muscle Size and Strength Fast Using “Death Sets”

Friday, August 22nd, 2008
Hardgainer Weight Gain Tips

Photo Credit: Estherase

This article was submitted by Derek Manuel, owner of Hardgainers Weight Tips.  See Hardgainers Weight Tips for more information on packing on quality muscle mass without the fat.

If you really want to know how to build muscle size and strength as fast as humanly possible, study the old-timers. Long before steroids and the BILLION dollar supplement industry, there was a time when men trained with nothing but heavy iron and a grueling will to build size and strength. One very distinguishing factor between strength trainers and bodybuilders of yesterday and today was the intensity of their training.

One training technique they used that is very rare to see today is something called “Death Sets.” By the name alone, you can tell they definitely aren’t a walk in the park. But what they give you is results. Real results, and faster then any supplement or home gym can promise. In fact, applied properly with the right food to eat to build muscles, they can very well be the fasted way to build muscle and gain weight.

I had first read about death sets in a one of the greatest books ever written on strength training, Dinosaur Training, by a man named Brooks D. Kubik. If you are a hardgainer, or someone really serious about training for strength and size, then death sets can and will slap more pounds of muscle and strength on your frame then practically any other way of training. They are perhaps the most intense type of training you may ever do, but like I said, the results you get will be like nothing else. So if you really, really want to learn how to build muscle size and strength faster then ever before, and aren’t afraid of some hard work, these are for you.

So what exactly are death sets and how do you do them? Death sets were properly named because they trigger what Kubik calls the “Grow or Die” mechanism. Unlike conventional training, they really work you closer to your absolute limit like nothing else. Basically, death sets are heavy, high rep training. Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it? Normally, you either train with heavy weight and low reps, or with lighter weight and high reps. So how in the world do you train with heavy weight and still do a high amount of reps? Two factors: certain compound exercises and mental toughness. Death sets are not meant for your smaller muscle groups like arms or neck, but rather for the big muscle groups such as your legs and lower back.

Though you can apply death sets with most larger muscle groups, performing squats or deadlifts with them are by far the most grueling, but effective. Since our legs can withstand much more physical endurance then the rest of our body, (given that we walk and stand on them all day long) it is very hard to reach their limit. And your body will do everything it can to get your mind to quit before your body. But you have to train your mind to withstand pain and accomplish your goal. Even though squats and deadlifts are known as mainly leg exercises, you can no doubt expect your whole body to grow. The intensity will include your whole body to come into action, and as a result the rest of your muscles will benefit, especially doing stiff-legged deadlifts.

Some examples of death sets are 15, 20 and even up to 30 reps of squats or deadlifts, but with HEAVY weight. Heavy enough to where you feel finished at the tenth rep. But this is where your will power and focus come into play. This is a good test of your mental strength, because as soon as you even think about quitting or giving up, your body will do it. This is why it is so important to mentally prep yourself before the set, and to stay in that animal instinct throughout the whole set.

The good news is that you only have to do one of these sets per exercise, two at the maximum. But after you are finished you will feel completely wiped out. You may throw up or feel like passing out, but as long as you complete the set and make sure to nourish your body after with plenty of good food and rest, your body will grow. You certainly won’t grow overnight, this is at least a two month process; but if you work hard enough and build up to heavy enough weight, your body will literally transform. Your mental toughness will also develop and you will eventually become as tough as nails both physically and mentally. Now that’s a true strength trainer!

So if you got the guts, give these a try, but remember not to do too many other exercises in your program along with them. You can very easily overtrain with these, especially if you are a hardgainer. Just a couple other major compound exercises for your upper body should be plenty, and don’t neglect proper nutrition and plenty of rest or you will be completely wasting your time and effort. This is perhaps the best way on how to build muscle size and strength fast.

This article was submitted by Derek Manuel, owner of Hardgainers Weight Tips.  See Hardgainers Weight Tips for more information on packing on quality muscle mass without the fat.

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Gym Advice – Some of the Worst

Thursday, August 21st, 2008
Photo Credit: Fieldsbh

Photo Credit: fieldsbh

“Lift heavy and eat big.”

Might be fine at age 18-25 but once you get any type of injury or you start to gain any fat, you’ve got very limited options.  That usually comes from two people….

  1. A current or past Mr. Olympia
  2. Somebody under 28 years of age

There’s a heck of a lot more to bodybuilding.  It’s not overly complex I will agree but it’s also not that simple.  And if you leave yourself in such a simplistic state of mind, when something happens (no gym, no heavy weights, injury, etc) you don’t have a good arsenal of other things you can do.

When I injured my shoulder, the “lift heavy” was bullshit.  Not possible.  I had to find other things to do with much lighter weight to overload my shoulders without pushing heavy weight.  Luckily I had so many options to choose from that my shoulders grew in size using nothing heavier than a 30 lb weight.

I get the point of the phrase… I do.  It’s why many people fail to make adequate progress.  But it’s far to simple and if you don’t move beyond that line of thinking, you’ll be one of the many that will be forced at some point.

Lift heavy, eat big but realize there’s more to the sport than lifting heavy ass weight and there’s about 1000 other ways to grow muscle without adding on pounds per week.

“Training is more important than nutrition.”

The point, if your nutrition is not up to par, you cannot support the growth and recovery for a hard training session.  It’s as simple as that.

Training harder is not the always the answer depending on your level of experience.  Are you a beginner?  Or have you been training for a while and got all those fundamentals under control?

“You can’t out-train a lousy diet!”
Famous lines used by strength coaches all over

“Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition” - Vince Gironda

Your nutrition must be up to par to support the harder training you may do.  If you simply train harder and you nutrition is not on the same level or higher, you can and will take steps backward.

Let’s put it this way…  nutrition is always CRITICALLY important….

It’s more important that beginner’s should focus on nutrition… because their diet is usually a mess to begin with.

At an advanced level where all the fundamentals are in place, improvements in nutrition become less significant and changes in training can make the most changes.  In which case, your training is more of a focal point.

It depends on where you currently are now with your training to really answer that in a general fashion.

“This macronutrient and calorie counting stuff is A HUGE WASTE OF TIME”

First off… Learning about nutrition is critical to success.  The initial baby-steps you take like calorie counting are an important part of this learning process.  Over time and once you learn the basics, it’s not as necessary.  Remember when you learned how to write?

You didn’t just start writing a novel.  Small sentences and words is not a huge waste of time when learning how to write and neither is counting calories and learning about nutrient ratios.

Maybe you don’t want to sweat the small stuff but you better know how to do the small stuff because it’s usually the simple things that hamper your progress.  For starters…

It’s not a bad idea to count calories and learn about macro nutrient ratios.  When you get stuck at 12% body fat and you can’t go any lower, the old trainer harder isn’t going to get you to 6% body fat and competition shape.

“Eat candy, junk food, whatever you can to gain weight.”

As I say… Lazy bodybuilders.  And downright the stupidest advice I ever received when I was in high school from the local guru.  There’s just no excuse for having bad nutrition to do anything in life unless you are just too lazy to do the right thing.  What’s next, how to brush your teeth with milkshakes to gain weight?


Have you ever received any bad gym advice?  If so, I’d love to hear them.


How To Lose 20 Pounds Really, Really Fast

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Photo Credit: Piez

After the latest comment wars on the Flat Belly Diet,  I stated that weight loss is irrelevant without a frame of reference.  This generated some feedback from people who wanted to be encouraged about their weight loss no matter what it was (water, fat or muscle).   I stand by that going by the numbers on a scale is the wrong way to go about it.  Maybe this guest article will make the point I was attempting to get across.

This article was submitted by Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle (rss feed). See Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle for more information on burning fat the right way.

Back “in the day” when I was a full time personal trainer and I met with weight loss clients in person at my New Jersey Health Club, the first thing I would always ask during the initial consultation was:

“Tell me what you want… and I’ll show you how to get it.”

Typical reply from client:

“I want to lose 20 pounds fast.”

My reply:

“Are you SURE that’s what you want? …If I can show you how to lose 20 pounds REALLY fast, will that make you happy?”

They nodded their head affirmatively as their eyes lit up in anticipation of the rapid weight loss secrets I was about to reveal…

Their face went white when – with a totally straight face – I pulled out a hacksaw and started walking towards them…. menacingly.

Not sure whether to laugh or run in sheer terror, they said,

“What the heck are you doing?”

“You said you wanted to lose 20 pounds fast. This is the easiest, surest, most effective way I know to take 20 pounds off you FAST! In fact, I figure that right leg of yours might even weigh 25 pounds!”

I kept walking closer and started to get into sawing position, wielding my fast, effective and guaranteed weight loss tool…

“Bear with me because this IS quick, but sometimes it takes a few minutes for me to cut through the bone.”

By this time, my client (and I) are either completely cracking up, I have seriously scared the living you know what out of them, or they just think I’m a complete lunatic… (depends on whether I was able to keep a straight face or not)

Finally, the light bulb goes on, and my client would see where I was going with this:

“Okay, smart alec,” I get it… I don’t want to lose WEIGHT, I want to lose FAT.”

Sometimes I would be having so much fun, I would just keep on playin’…

“But why not? This is easy, fast and guaranteed – just what everyone wants these days… it’s even better than taking a pill! Come on… let me hack it off! You’ll be my next testimonial: ‘I lost 20 pounds in 5 minutes!’ Imagine what that will do for my business!”

“Very funny. I told you, I get it! I want to lose FAT, not muscles and bones. I need my leg!”

Naturally, of course, I don’t always have to pull out my trusty blade. Every once in a while… about as often as a total solar eclipse… a client answers my question like this:

“What do I want? Tom, I want to lose 20 pounds of body fat in the next 12 weeks. I want to do it slowly, safely and healthfully and then keep it off permanently. I want all the fat around my hips and thighs completely gone and I want a firm flat stomach. I want muscle all over my body while still looking feminine. I’d like to see myself at about 16% body fat and maintain all my muscle or gain a few pounds of lean mass if I can, especially in my arms. This is important to me because I want to set a good example for my kids, I want to be healthy and live to at least 90 and I want my husband to look at me and say, “I love your body,” and I want to be able to *honestly* say back to him, “me too!”

It is on these rare occasions that I know there is still intelligent life on this planet.

If you could answer the question, “What do you want” with the lucidity, clarity and specificity that this woman did, I don’t think you would ever have any difficulty reaching your health and fitness goals… or any other goal in your life, for that matter.

Her answer was what you call a very “well-formed” goal, backed up with lots of emotional motivation-inducing “reasons why.”

“I want to lose weight” is a poorly-formed goal.

“Weight” is not the same as “fat.” Weight includes muscle, bone, internal organs as well as lots and lots of water.

If you only learn ONE thing from all my newsletters, articles and books, PLEASE learn this:


FAT LOSS is what you want, not weight loss.

If your body were 100% rock-solid muscle, with absolutely nothing that jiggled (unless it was supposed to), would you care how much you weighed?

I bet you wouldn’t! And if that’s true, then…


By measuring your body fat, you take the guesswork out of your health and fitness plan and you get an accurate picture of what’s really happening in your body as a result of your diet and exercise program.

Instead of worrying about whether you are losing muscle, or wondering if you are losing fat, you can measure it and KNOW for sure. (I always get a good chuckle when someone tells me they’re worried about losing muscle when they don’t even measure how much muscle they have!)

Instead of being confused by all the “opinions” from weight loss and exercise “experts” who are all telling you something different, you can MEASURE your body composition and based on the results, you can KNOW for sure whether your program is working.

A very wise man once said,

“A single measurement is worth a thousand opinions.”

So, how do you measure body fat?

Thanks to technology, there are some methods today that are so accurate, they can tell you whether your left pinky has more fat than your right pinky! Unfortunately, many of them are either too expensive or they are inaccessible, being found only in hospitals or research facilities

If you want to learn a LOT about various body fat testing methods, chapter 3 of my e-book, Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle goes into great detail about the pros and cons of all the various fat testing methods. Instead of re-hashing it all here, let me give you three quick and easy, practical suggestions:

Suggestion 1: Have a trainer or fitness professional measure you if this service is available at your local health club. Sometimes, there’s a charge – usually $15 – $25, although some clubs offer the service for free to all their members.

Suggestion 2: Purchase an Accu-measure skinfold caliper.

The Accu-measure was designed to allow you to measure your own body fat in the privacy of your own home (you don’t need someone else to measure you)

Some people wonder if this is really accurate. Truth is, it’s not quite as accurate as a multi site skinfold test from an experienced tester, but what’s most important is not the “accuracy” per se, but the reliability and consistency of your measurements so you can track your progress. Skinfold calipers in general are not accurate or inaccurate, it’s the person doing the test that is accurate or inaccurate.

Suggestion 3: If you have a spouse, roommate, or friend who can measure your body fat, you can purchase a Slim Guide body fat caliper (or just about any brand of caliper) from Creative Health Products:

The Slimguide is the best inexpensive caliper available (about $20), but it wasn’t designed for you to measure your own body fat like the Accu Measure. You’ll need someone to measure you with this caliper. Other models of body fat calipers (if you want to splurge), range from $150 to $450. (At our health clubs, I use the electronic “SKYNDEX” caliper with the 4-site “Durnin formula.”)

The calipers come with instructions, or you can use these formulas, which I have used and found to be very accurate:

4 Site formula for men (abdomen, suprailiac, thigh, tricep)

% fat = .29288(sum of 4 skinfolds) – 0.0005(sum of four skinfolds squared) + 0.15845(age) – 5.76377

4-Site Formula for women (abdomen, suprailiac, thigh, tricep)

% Fat = (.29669)(sum of 4 skinfolds) – (.00043)(Sum of four skinfolds squared) + .02963(age) + 1.4072

[Source: Jackson A S, Pollock, M (1985) Practical assessment of body composition. Physician Sport Med. 13: 76-90.]

Body fat percentages vary based on age and gender, but 20-25% body fat is average for women (15-19% is ideal), while 15-20% is average for men (10-14% is ideal). I have detailed charts for body fat charts in my e-book if you’re interested.

Once you know your body fat percentage, then weigh yourself and record your weight and body fat on a progress chart such as the one found in my Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle Program (a fat loss program, not a weight loss program). This chart is how you will track your progress and “keep score.”

You can calculate your lean body mass (muscle and other fat free tissue) very easily just by crunching some numbers:

For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and you have 10% body fat then you have 20 pounds of fat (10% of 200 = 20). That means you have a lean body mass (LBM) of 180 pounds.

Now we’re talking! With this data, you can get a really clear picture of how your exercise and nutrition program are affecting your physique.

Losing weight is very easy. Losing fat – and keeping it off without losing muscle – is a much bigger challenge. If you simply wanted to lose weight, we could just chop off your leg.

Or, (slightly less painful), I could show you how to drop 10 – 15 pounds over the weekend just by dehydrating yourself and using natural herbal diuretics. Wrestlers do it all the time to make a weight class. But what good would that do if it’s almost all water and you’re just going to gain it all back within days?

You don’t have to “throw away your scale” like many “experts” tell you to. By all means, keep using the scale, the tape measure and even photographs and the mirror – the more feedback the better – but body fat is where it’s at.

By the way, I recently bought a chain saw and a shiny new axe from Home Depot, and I’ve been practicing my “American Psycho” and Jack Nicholson, “The Shining” impersonations… so if you want to come to my office any time soon for personal consultation, you’d better have the right answer to my question, “What do you want?”

For more information about a nutrition and training program that focuses exclusively on FAT LOSS, not WEIGHT LOSS, visit: Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle

This article was submitted by Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle (rss feed). See Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle for more information on burning fat the right way.

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