One of the world’s strongest man gives his candid take on what is really required to add mass.
Apply these 7 principles and results are guaranteed.
Sure, everybody knows this, but do you do it? Pound all the protein shakes and pre-workout Tasmanian devil drinks you want but if you aren't getting your eight hours every night, you're wasting your time and money. I slept up to 11 hours a day when I squatted 905 pounds in training and set three world records. That was nine hours every night and a couple 60-minute naps after training and eating. You grow when you sleep – not when you train. And failing to get enough of it can seriously impede growth, recovery, mental acuity, energy levels and hormone levels.
This one is a no brainer too, but how much and which foods you take in can make a huge difference in your progress. Start with 1 gram of animal-based protein per pound of bodyweight and gradually work up to 1.5 and eventually 2 as you progress. Nutritionists love to talk about soy proteins or bean and rice combos. Find me one that deadlifts over 800 pounds and I might lend an ear. Otherwise, eat eggs, steak, whole milk, 4% fat cottage cheese, whole milk Kefir, salmon and 88 percent-plus ground beef. Where's the boneless skinless chicken, tuna and white fish? Save it for when you’re dieting down. You'll need the saturated fats and cholesterol to keep testosterone levels high and get Rhino strong.Stick with high quality, protein-dense animal proteins. Heavy-fat foods such as hot dogs, mayonnaise, cheese, bacon and fast food often yield inadequate quantities of protein and bog down your digestive system preventing you from eating your next meal on time. The squeamish may not want to hear it but fast food meats can be as much or more than 90% fat and chock full of ground bone and tendon that your body can't use. Five meals per day, each with 40-50 grams of protein, is a good starting goal.Gradually train your metabolism to process all that food. You'll have no better luck trying to eat 5,000 calories tomorrow than you will loading 500 pounds on the bench and asking for a lift off. Start with what youcan eat and add calories every week or two, making sure that your training supports the increasing intake. After eating all your proteins and fats, toss in some carbs to fuel your workouts and to help prevent catabolism. Steer clear of white flour foods and stick with healthy servings of oatmeal, rice and potatoes. In the powerlifting world, "mass moves mass” so gradually increase calories to increase mass.
WaterThis sounds like another one of those old conventional wisdoms you hear everyone telling everyone else to do. I have a somewhat unpopular but extremely necessary twist for you. Water is worthless…without SALT! You can drink all the water you want but if you aren't taking in enough sodium then most of that water will go to waste right along with your worthless mega doses of vitamins (more on that later). But isn't salt bad for you? Says who?The FDA guideline is completely arbitrary and newer research is showing that higher levels of sodium were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular problems. Salt is a bigger performance enhancer than creatine, by a long shot. Sodium increases amino acid absorption and improves carbohydrate storage. Remember neurons from basic biology? Then hopefully you remember that every muscle in your body is fired by a chemical reaction between those neurons called the sodium potassium pump. I'll leave the scientific details for the lab coats to debate.Most of us simply need to know that salt is a performance enhancer. There's no mechanism to store sodium for future use so you'll need the recommended 3,000 mg a day plus your workload replacement which can be anywhere from another 1,000-2,000 mg. (NOTE: Those with predispositions to heart conditions may want to consult with a physician. Again, this number is for harder training individuals.)
4. Lift Hard
Shouldn't this have been first? Nope! All you do in the gym is break down muscle tissue. All the growth comes from the recovery phase (eating and sleeping), so lifting weights is not the most important part of a mass or strength program. The great thing about being a beginner is that just about any weight lifting program accompanied with the proper recovery (eating and sleeping) will yield results. There is no best program. Lift heavy weights for a few sets of about five reps using basic, multi-joint mass building movements like squats, deadlifts, dips, chins, bench, T-bar rows for an hour a few times a week and you will get bigger and stronger. Don't over think it, just be consistent and work hard.
There's an old saying in the Bizarro world of 300-pound bodybuilders and powerlifters: "Don't run if you can walk, don't stand if you can sit and don't stay awake of you can sleep.” That pretty much sums up my opinion of cardio.