How Much Protein You Need and

Pro Bodybuilders eat about one gram (sometimes even 1.5 grams) of protein per pound of body weight or per pound of non-fat tissue. I'm sure you've seen that the recommended dail


Sunday, November 20, 2016

8 Muscle-Building Fast-Food Options!

You might think any junk-food drive-thru will align with your bulking phase, but choosing low-quality fuel won't allow you to reach your micronutrient and fiber goals. If you bog yourself down with fatty meat and greasy grains, you'll have a hard time walking to the car, let alone squatting in a few hours.

Not all fast food is created equal, however. By doing your homework ahead of time, it's possible to grab an on-the-go meal that won't sabotage your fitness goals.

When fast food is your only option, or you simply want a break from meal prep, consider one of these eight muscle-building menu options!

1. Chipotle Mexican Grill

When you want out-of-this-world portions, you go to Chipotle. Chipotle offers numerous calorie-dense options and generous helpings. This relatively healthy fare makes it easy to stick to a diet and enjoy some delicious Mexican cuisine.

Option 1: Steak Burrito with brown rice, black beans, pinto beans, fajita veggies, corn salsa, mild salsa, lettuce, and guacamole. Even if you choose the burrito bowl with a salad base (no tortilla), you can easily surpass 1,000 calories! Adding guacamole helps even more.

  1. Calories: 1,320
  2. Fat: 48 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 161 g
  4. Protein: 61 g

Option 2: Barbacoa Burrito with white and brown rice, black beans, corn salsa, tomatillo green chili salsa, cheese, and lettuce

  1. Calories: 1,225
  2. Fat: 37 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 168 g
  4. Protein: 55 g

To pack in even more quality calories, ask for a bowl with the wrap on the side, and double your meat. Your server will be able to fit more goodness in the bowl, and you can wrap it however you want. And remember to be kind to your servers—sometimes they'll throw in a bit extra for you.


Best known for its fluffy pancakes with an array of flavorful toppings and creative takes on all things breakfast, IHOP's gigantic menu offers limitless muscle-building meal options.

Option 1: Make-Your-Own Omelet with shredded pepper jack cheese, avocado, onions, peppers, and a side of White Chocolate Chip Raspberry Pancakes with syrup

  1. Calories: 1,270
  2. Fat: 46 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 165 g
  4. Protein: 49 g

Option 2: Chicken Fajita Omelet with a side of Chocolate Chip Pancakes

  1. Calories: 1,576
  2. Fat: 92 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 100 g
  4. Protein: 87 g

If you're still hungry, consider ordering a side of whole-grain toast, Canadian bacon, or oatmeal!

3. Chick-Fil-A

Known for its anti-beef campaigning, this chicken-lover's paradise provides numerous tasty takes on poultry and milkshakes.

Option 1: Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, small Waffle Fries

  1. Calories: 1,071
  2. Fat: 35 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 118 g
  4. Protein: 71 g

Option 2: Chicken, Egg and Cheese Bagel, Chicken Breakfast Burrito, and Multigrain Oatmeal.

  1. Calories: 1,075
  2. Fat: 43 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 119 g
  4. Protein: 53 g

If you need more calories to meet your day's goal, consider adding a small milkshake for an additional 500-calorie boost!

4. Subway

Subway is primarily known for its freshly baked bread and colorful array of vegetables. Because of their broad assortment of meats, toppings, and condiments, you can make nearly any sandwich or salad fit your goals!

Option 1: 12-inch Subway Club on Honey Oat bread with provolone cheese, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and avocado

  1. Calories: 933
  2. Fat: 29 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 112 g
  4. Protein: 56 g

Option 2: 12-inch Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki on 9-Grain Wheat Bread with provolone cheese, lettuce, onions, olives, spinach, tomatoes, and sweet onion sauce.

  1. Calories: 937
  2. Fat: 17 g
  3. Carbohydrates: 136 g
  4. Protein: 60 g

If you really want to boost your macros, consider shelling out for double meat or cheese, adding guacamole, or pairing with a side of baked chips!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Make Cheat Meals Work for You

Here's what you need to know...

  1. Getting the body trending toward a lean, muscular look does not involve cutting and bulking. That backfires and not only makes it more difficult for you to gain muscle, it also trains the body to be good at storing fat.
  2. Cheat meals are not only fun, they also greatly boost metabolic rate. The Cheat Fast potentiates this effect for enhanced FAT LOSS and muscle gains, thereby removing the negative consequences of cheat meals — getting fat and feeling guilty.
  3. The Cheat Fast involves a one-day specialized fast where you only consume Mag-10®, which is a supplement designed to produce a thermo-anabolic response. Producing this thermo-anabolic spike several times a day retrains your physiology to better utilize protein (build muscle) and burn BODY FAT.
  4. Because the Cheat Fast reduces metabolically damaging gut bacteria, protein is utilized better, cravings are reduced, and it's easier to get lean and to stay lean.
  5. The results from a one-day Cheat Fast are significant. Most people will lose a few pounds of fat, gain some muscle, and reduce their waists by as much as one inch.

What's Your Metabolic Trend?

Body composition is never static. It's always trending in one direction or the other. Even though you probably can't sense it, your body is currently working its level best at getting leaner or getting fatter — at gaining muscle or losing muscle. So which direction is your body trending?

Unfortunately, many people who hit the gym and watch their diets have accidentally caused their bodies to trend in the wrong direction. By oscillating between fat-loss diets and "bulking phases" they've taught their bodies to prefer "building" fat over building muscle. They're left with a metabolic rate that's not only lower it's also sluggish. Progress slows and finally comes to halt as they begin to slide backward.

Are You Skinny-Fat or Chubby-Strong?

You could be your own worst enemy when it comes to losing fat and gaining muscle. Like many lifters, you've probably looked at FAT LOSS and muscle gain as two separate and very different strategies. As a result, you've mistakenly programmed your body to function as an efficient fat-storage machine that's also stubborn about building muscle.

Your metabolism is sluggish. Fat cells are swollen and "constipated," holding on to their gooey globs of lipids. And muscle cells are resistant to pulling in nutrients for growing. Your body simply refuses to be where you want it to be, leaving you with only two choices: being "skinny-fat" or "chubby-strong."

What you need is a simple strategy to not only fix these body-comp problems, but to keep them fixed for good. You need your body programmed for being lean and muscular.

The Mag-10 Cheat Fast

We've tested the Cheat Fast protocol on pro bodybuilders and athletes, as well as casual lifters. Across the board, everyone noticed potent thermogenic effects combined with enhanced anabolic activity in muscle — all from this single strategy.

According to Christian Thibaudeau, "The Cheat Fast might be the only true breakthrough in the world of high-performance nutrition in the past 20 years." Christian is referring to the powerful metabolic effect that occurs from pulse-dosing Mag-10 during a fasted state. Not only does it produce a profound anabolic response, it also produces a powerful thermogenic effect, as well.

Even more impressive — shocking actually — is that we've witnessed a greater rate of combined FAT LOSS and muscle gain than when either are done separately. It's because we're resetting the fat cell's hormone-release pattern to induce an anabolic metabolism that's fueled by the body's own fat stores, which is where we get the term thermo-anabolic.

Fasting over a 24-hour period, while pulsing with doses of Mag-10, enhances insulin sensitivity in muscle, which increases its nutrient uptake. Due to the fasting state, the loaded Mag-10 formula rapidly hits the bloodstream and sends what amounts to an anabolic shockwave right into the muscle. At the same time, fat cells are signaled to release their contents for fuel.

As the body responds to this pulse-fast strategy, muscle cells become increasingly sensitive to the anabolic formula of Mag-10, fat cells shrink, and the systemic urge to binge eat is reduced.

Even though it's technically complex, a Mag-10 Cheat Fast is pretty simple and painless to do. And "cheat meals" really do play an IMPORTANT role.

No-Guilt Cheat Meals

Cheat meals just happen, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Once or twice per week, a cheat meal can greatly boost metabolic rate. Your metabolism burns hot, white hot, after a sudden influx of extra calories.

But most people don't take advantage of this effect. They immediately feel guilty and "put out the fire" of their scorching-hot metabolism with dietary restriction and too much punitive cardio. Instead, why not actually extend and potentiate this powerful state, and keep that fire burning?

The Mag-10 Cheat Fast does just that. The day after a big cheat, simply follow the protocol, and turn the day after your cheat into a 24-hour bonfire for fat.

A Cleanse for Cravings

Cravings seem to always stand in the way of sustainable low BODY FAT. Unlike natural hunger, cravings are very difficult to control and a persistent torment that keeps us from getting lean and staying lean.

We now know that the bacteria naturally living in our digestive tracts has a lot to do with cravings. It's common knowledge that we have both good and bad gut bacteria. But it's not common knowledge that unfavorable gut bacteria can cause metabolic impairment, insulin resistance, and fat-cell inflammation.

Certain bad bacteria can also trigger cravings by manipulating your brain's appetite-control center, which is managed by the body's endocannabinoid system. You might be wondering if the endocannabinoid system has anything to do with cannabinoids, the active compounds found in cannabis (marijuana). The answer is yes. Bad gut bacteria and marijuana both produce the "munchies" through the very same receptors.

The good news is, the Mag-10 Cheat Fast starves these bad bugs long enough to allow the good bacteria to flourish. Balance is restored, which means cravings will begin to diminish. It also means that protein and carbs are better utilized and much less likely to be stored as BODY FAT.

What to Expect

While the main goal of the Mag-10 Cheat Fast is to get your body trending toward getting lean and muscular, there are some very satisfying short-term effects, as well. For example, on your first Cheat Fast, you should expect to lose 2 to 5 pounds of weight, comprised of fat and excess water. You should also lose about an inch off the fattest part of your belly.

How To Do It

Doing the Mag-10 Cheat Fast is simple. Just follow two steps:

  1. The night before your Cheat Fast, have a cheat meal.
  2. The next day, consume nothing but 6 servings (35 g; 2 scoops) of Mag-10, which equates to one serving about every 3 hours. In addition to Mag-10, you can also have any amount of plain coffee, tea, calorie-free beverage, or extra water.
  3. That's it!

Prove It to Yourself

  1. Weigh yourself the morning after your cheat meal. Also measure around the largest part of your belly, using a fabric tape measure.
  2. Follow the Cheat Fast guidelines for the rest of the day.
  3. Weigh and measure yourself the next morning.
  4. Prepare to be shocked. You'll not only feel better, you'll look better too.

Questions and Answers

Can I train the day of my Cheat Fast?

You can work out, but you'll need to add two doses of Plazma™ to the Cheat Fast plan. Simply schedule your workout about an hour prior to one of the Mag-10 pulses, and follow this dosing protocol:

Immediately prior to training – Plazma (1 scoop)
Mid workout – Plazma (1 scoop)
Immediately after training – Mag-10 pulse
Continue drinking your Mag-10 pluses on schedule after training.

How many times can I do the Cheat Fast per week?

One Cheat Fast per week works well for most people. But if you'd like to see even faster results, you can do two Cheat Fasts per week that are separated by two or three days. For example, Monday and Thursday or Monday and Friday works well.

What do I do the day after my Cheat Fast?
Keep in mind that the real benefit from using this strategy occurs in the days after the Cheat Fast, when your body is primed for building muscle and burning fat. So take full advantage of the enhanced physiology by following effective dietary and training strategies for your goals. And don't neglect loading up on Plazma pre, during, and post workout.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Complete Guide To Optimal Iron Levels

One of the cruel ironies of fitness is that you can spend nearly all of your free time pumping iron but still be deficient in iron. If you're struggling with nagging fatigue and what feels like a never-ending cold, low iron levels could be to blame—and you've got company. Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in America, and this condition is estimated to impact more than two billion people worldwide.[1]

Are you at risk? Only testing can really say, although if you're a woman and an athlete, you're more likely to be iron-deficient. But even if you just want to hedge your bets, you owe it to yourself to be more strategic about how much iron you get in your diet, and almost as IMPORTANTLY, how you remove the biggest roadblocks to dietary-iron absorption.

Don't let the deficiency stats fool you. You have the ability to get your iron levels right! Find out which symptoms to look for, how to best assess your levels, and how to go about restoring them so you can restore energy and performance.

What Iron Does, Who Needs It, And How To Test

Iron is an essential mineral, meaning that your body can't produce the amount it needs to perform crucial functions. Iron is a chief component of hemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. Iron is also necessary for optimal growth and development of the muscular and skeletal systems, and to maintain normal cellular functioning, immune function, and synthesis of hormones and connective tissue.[1] If some of that sounds a little vague, that's just because iron does so much, in so many parts of your body, that it's hard to get across without a textbook.

So you much do you need? The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 8 milligrams for men and 18 mg for women, respectively.[1,2] Women have elevated needs due to iron loss that occurs during the menstrual cycle, and as a result are at a higher risk for iron deficiency compared to men. This risk is further heightened in female athletes; in fact, it's estimated that 26-60 percent of female athletes are affected by iron deficiency.[3-5]

Regardless of sex, all athletes are at risk for paltry iron stores due to iron loss in sweat. But if you do a lot of running, you're at particular risk for iron loss due to a phenomenon known as footstrike hemolysis, which is the increased breakdown of red blood cells and ultimate loss of iron due to repetitive impact against the ground.

Not having enough iron can lead to a slew of health and performance-related consequences such as chronic fatigue; frequent illness related to a compromised immune system; unpredictable changes in mood; decreased appetite; and loss of endurance, power, and desire to train. Talk about a recipe for disaster!

If you train hard and notice a recurring pattern of one of the symptoms described above, it may be 
worthwhile to get your iron levels tested. The gold-standard test is one that looks at serum ferritin, which reveals total iron storage within the body.[6,7] 

There are other methods, but a systematic overview of the diagnostic techniques for iron-deficiency anemia showed that serum ferritin outperformed all others.[8] When discussing options with your physician, opt for this methodology if available.

Where To Get Your Iron

Iron can be found in an abundance of foods. However, not all foods contain the same type of iron.

There are two forms of iron: heme and non-heme. The former is found exclusively in animal products, since it is derived from hemoglobin. The latter is found in plant sources. Your body absorbs and utilizes heme iron far more efficiently than non-heme, but this definitely doesn't mean that vegetarians are doomed to chronically low iron levels.

How To Enhance Iron Absorption

If you think your iron stores are low or a physician has confirmed that they are, don't fret. There are plenty of options you can take to boost iron levels. Make it a priority, and you might be feeling and performing better in a matter of weeks.

1. Eat Red Meat Or Shellfish Twice A Week

Surf and turf, baby! Unless you're a vegetarian, this is a no-brainer. Don't like liver? Maybe you just don't know how to prepare it right. Fried chicken livers and paté both taste a lot better than that dry beef liver your grandparents may have tried to get you to eat. Don't each much shellfish? Maybe you should start.

Steak is also a solid iron source, of course. If you're concerned that eating beef twice a week will negatively impact your waistline, opt for a leaner cut such as top round, flank, sirloin, or filet.

2. Pair Iron-Rich Foods With Vitamin C

Vitamin C enhances non-heme iron absorption. It does so by preventing the formation of nonabsorbable iron compounds and preventing the reduction of ferric iron into insoluble ferrous iron.[9,10] Excellent sources of vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, kiwi, and limes.

A word of caution here, though. Spinach, although rich in vitamin C, also contains a high amount of oxalic acid, which inhibits iron absorption. Some people believe this is sufficient to block iron absorption in a meal, though there are studies indicating it's not a concern.[11]

Still, if iron is a high priority for you, consider having your nutrient-rich spinach at a different time of day.

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3. Avoid Pairing Iron-Rich Foods With Dairy, Coffee, Or Teas

When iron is consumed with coffee or tea, absorption rates can be decreased by as much as 35-62 percent. Given that your body only absorbs 2-20 percent of the non-heme iron you consume, any further reduction makes those sources pretty much nonexistent.

If you like to start your day with a bowl of oatmeal and fruit, consider drinking your morning cup of joe an hour before you eat. Or, save that GLASS of milk for bedtime rather than with your tofu stir-fry.

4. Cook With A Cast-Iron Skillet

When utilizing a cast-iron skillet to sear your steak dinner, you'll actually further boost the meal's iron content, because some of the iron from the pan is absorbed by the cut of beef. Yes, this is safe, and it occurs no matter the type of meat, grain, or veggie you use!

How much iron it ends up conveying is hard to determine, but the use of iron cookware has been a successful intervention in reducing iron deficiency in developing countries.[12]

5. Supplement The Right Way

Research suggests that supplementation is effective in improving iron status and enhancing performance.[13] However, it's IMPORTANT to first seek advice and testing from your physician to determine whether supplementation is appropriate for you.

A traditional women's multivitamin will provide you with the RDA of 18 milligrams per serving; however, if you have low stores, you might benefit from an iron supplement that provides closer to 30 milligrams per serving. When choosing an iron supplement, it's IMPORTANT to choose a supplement that ends in "-ate" such as ferrous sulfate, gluconate, and fumarate. These iron salts are absorbed best.

To optimize absorption and minimize risk of an unsettled stomach when supplementing with iron, most people benefit from taking iron on an empty stomach. However, for some people, taking iron with a small amount of food is necessary to stave off nausea.

Try both approaches, and stick with what works best for you. Be careful not to take too much at once, though, as this may lead to nausea, constipation, and GI distress.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How I Build Muscle and Strip Off Fat – FAST!

My Fastest Program for Building Muscle and Ripping Off Fat

When I'm hired to get an athlete, bodybuilder, or actor into the best shape of his life – to strip him of virtually all BODY FAT while adding 15 to 20 pounds of functional "show" muscle – I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of protocols I can use to help him reach that goal.

But if I'm also given the added challenge of a quick deadline – where I have a limited amount of time to give him that amazing look of power – there's only one type of training to use: star complexes.

No. Not those complexes. Not the ones you've read about so many times. I'm talking about real complexes. Not only that, I've taken the idea of complexes to a whole new level.

Soviet-Style Complexes for Bodybuilding

If you're familiar with complexes, you've been mislead. Rather, you haven't been told the whole story.

First, wipe your memory of what you think a complex is. You know, standing in one place with the same bar, going through a series of exercises without stopping, usually with a light weight. We used that type of method when I was an Olympic weightlifter. We called it a warm-up.

Real complexes originated in the Soviet Union. Later, Dr. Donald Chu wrote about this "secret" training method and used it to prepare athletes for three different Olympics.

Complexes are simply blocks of exercises. The Soviets used only two exercises in their complexes – one strength-movement and one power/explosive movement. The idea was to work both extremes of the strength curve.

My former football coach who later became my mentor introduced me to the idea. He'd have us do back squats and then, immediately after, perform jump squats. It's the same movement pattern, just working different capacities.

It was an incredibly effective training method and I've been experimenting with it for years. Today I use complexes with every athlete I train at one point or another. Complexes allow you to work on power, strength, and speed, while building some appreciable mass in the process.

I've now perfected the method, and the results my clients are getting are nothing short of shocking. My version of complexes is simply this: a shortcut to the coveted power look.

Thibaudeau Star Complexes

I've taken the concept of complexes and ramped it up. Instead of training only two points on the force-velocity curve, I train around five points, which is why I call them star complexes.

Each complex will use five exercises of the same movement pattern. The five exercises will be performed back to back, starting with a heavy/slow movement as the first exercise. Each subsequent exercise will be lighter in resistance than the previous exercise, allowing for progressively faster rep speeds.

Don't worry, you don't have to "get it" now. I'll provide easy-to-understand examples a little later on.

Explosive Fat Loss!

This progressive method creates a powerful metabolic effect that's incredible for FAT LOSS, especially when combined with short rest periods. Although short enough to keep an elevated heart rate, these rest periods shouldn't be so short that they decrease performance. Fat loss is further increased with the addition of a strength-endurance movement at the end of the complex.

Most of my fat-loss complexes consist of two heavy movements and three explosive movements. The reason? Explosive movements have a more profound effect on FAT LOSS than slow movements. A complex that has three explosive movements by itself is going to be efficient for fat loss. Add a strength-endurance movement at the end and it's even more effective.

And remember, the faster you can train without having a decrease in performance, the better it is. Explosive work increases insulin sensitivity in the muscle tissue more than any other type of training. If you overemphasize the eccentric action, you decrease insulin sensitivity. In fact, intense eccentric work can decrease glycogen re-synthesis for up to 36 hours and that's a killer!

So, by having mostly explosive movements, you sensitize the muscle cells to insulin, which leads to less storage of fat. This is followed by a powerful increase in catecholamines that results in further energy expenditure and keeps the metabolic rate elevated for a few hours after the workout.

Finally, there's the sheer calorie burn from performing big movements. Your muscle is like an engine; the bigger it is the more gas you burn. Big movements mean big calorie burn.

Four Types of Movement Patterns

I carve up the body's actions into four basic movement patterns:
  1. Deadlift
  2. Squat
  3. Overhead press
  4. Bench press

Each complex targets one of these movement patterns, and you'll be performing two complexes per day, paired like this:

Day                                         Complex A                                                        Complex B
Monday                               Overhead Press                                                             Squat
Tuesday                                   Deadlift                                                                   Bench Press
Thursday                              Squat                                                                        Overhead Press
Friday                                Bench Press                                                                 Deadlift
  1. Perform the 5 exercises in Star Complex A as a circuit, resting 30 to 90 seconds between each exercise
  2. Complete 4 to 6 rounds of the complex, depending on your goals and capabilities.
  3. Rest for as long as it takes you to set up Star Complex B.
  4. Perform the 5 exercises in Star Complex B as a circuit, resting 30 to 90 seconds between each exercise.
  5. Complete 4 to 6 rounds of the complex, depending on your goals and capabilities.

Maximizing Results with Peri-Workout Supplements

Complexes can be used for several goals: FAT LOSS, strength and power gains, and building high-performance mass. You name it, complexes can do it! However, I've designed this specific program for maximum fat loss while gaining as much muscle as possible, so my workout supplement protocol will reflect those goals.

You need to understand, just because you're in a fat-loss phase doesn't mean that you can't grow stronger and pack on muscle as well. I've trained several bodybuilders who broke personal records a week prior to a contest. And this is after weeks of hardcore dieting. To maximize results, especially when training at this level, you simply have to load up on these high-tech nutrients during the peri-workout period.

Here's my recommendation for maximum results:

Supplement                                                   Amount
Plazma™                                                         3 servings
Mag-10®                                                  2 servings
  • Drink half of the Plazma™ 15-20 minutes pre-workout, and the remaining half at the mid-point onward.
  • Thirty minutes after your workout drink Mag-10®.
  • Eat your regular meal 60 to 90 minutes after the workout.

What Kind of Results Can You Expect?

I've seen dramatic results time and time again.

I've seen hockey players dropping 5% BODY FAT in five weeks without changing their diets. I've seen fitness girls losing 20 pounds of fat in six weeks while getting stronger. And I've seen football players completely revamp their body composition in six weeks while adding 20% to some of their lifts!

Complexes, performed in this fashion, work. For any body type. For any goal. They're that powerful. They're one of my best "secrets." And now, the secret is all yours. Get to work.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fasted Cardio Eats Muscle

Here's what you need to know...

  • Most people attempting to lose fat will use diet and exercise strategies that make it impossible to preserve muscle.
  • Fasted cardio works, but only if you're on performance-enhancing drugs to protect your muscle. Otherwise it stinks.
  • If you decide to add cardio, use low-intensity work for 45-60 minutes or high-intensity work lasting 15 minutes or less.
  • Dropping workout nutrition is counterproductive when it comes to energy expenditure and muscle preservation.

More Muscle = Higher Metabolism

Whenever people decide to lose body fat, they make the same dumb mistake: They adopt strategies that make it impossible to preserve their muscle mass.

They lose weight, of course, but they lose just as much lean body mass as fat mass. They simply become smaller versions of their unaesthetic selves.

Sure, they'll occupy less space, the scale will tell them they weigh less, and their doctor might even congratulate them for being closer to their "healthy weight," but in reality they aren't looking any better, which kind of misses the point.

The number one priority when trying to lose fat should be keeping muscle. Losing muscle mass should not be acceptable. Doing so will make it harder to continue losing fat since muscle tissue is metabolically responsible for most of the fat you'll lose.

Ten pounds of muscle burns 50 calories per day even at rest, so if you lose 10 pounds of muscle, you will burn 50 fewer calories per day, or 350 fewer calories per week. That can make a significant difference in the long run.

Then there's the issue of insulin sensitivity. If you have more muscle, your insulin sensitivity will be slanted more towards accruing muscle mass. A larger muscle has more insulin receptors, which makes the muscles more insulin sensitive.

That means you'll tend to store more of what you eat in the muscles instead of as body fat. Lastly, when you have more muscle mass, you can lift more weight and train harder, which increases the amount of calories you burn during a workout.

As you can see, it's not only important to maintain muscle when dieting, it's vital. Here are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose fat.

1.  Fasted Cardio

Fasted cardio, most often done first thing in the morning, has been a popular approach in the world of bodybuilding for years... and it works, if you're using performance-enhancing drugs to protect your muscle mass. But for a natural lifter, fasted cardio is a very good way to eat away at your muscle mass.

First of all, cortisol is at its highest in the morning (the cortisol spike is what allows you to have energy when you wake-up). If you don't eat, it will stay elevated and even increase.

And if you couple it with cardio, which also tends to jack up cortisol output, you'll end up with a sky-high cortisol level, which is one of the best ways to lose muscle.

Not only that, if it gets high enough you'll actually have a hard time bringing it down during the day (especially when in a caloric deficit). You end up spending the whole day in a muscle-wasting state!

I'm not pro-cardio or anti-cardio. Some people need it to get super lean, some don't. I do however think that people introduce it too soon in a fat loss phase. If you decide to use cardio to get leaner, doing it fasted is a bad idea.

The absolute best way to get the greatest caloric expenditure over the whole day from cardio is to do your it in what's called the post-absorptive state. That means not in a fasted state, but not while you're still digesting either.

The post-absorptive state is when nutrients are available in the bloodstream and fat oxidation and caloric expenditure is at its greatest.

If you do your cardio in a fasted state, the overall fat oxidation over a 24-hour period is significantly lower, probably because the metabolic rate doesn't increase or stay elevated, but also because the bout of activity causes more fatigue.

You instinctively end up lowering your activity level throughout the day. There's also the issue of fasted cardio being potentially catabolic to muscle mass.

However, doing cardio after you just ate isn't better either. It'll lead to less fat oxidation and more glucose oxidation, not to mention that a lot of people have a hard time going hard on energy system work when they're still digesting a meal.

THE BEST OPTIONis to perform cardio when the body has fully absorbed nutrients prior to the activity. Unfortunately, this is really hard to do with solid food. It's almost impossible to know how fast solid food is digested. It will vary from person to person and even from time of day in the same person.

What I use is Mag-10® because it's readily absorbed, so you can drink it and do cardio afterwards and get all the benefits of the post-absorptive state. It boosts metabolic rate and actually helps you get leaner faster.

To summarize, avoid fasted cardio when you're trying to lose fat and are not using an anabolic aid. (Mag-10 works perfectly for that purpose.) Do cardio in the post-absorptive state to preserve muscle mass and will have the greatest impact on your fat loss over a 24-hour period.

2.  Lighter Weights + Higher Reps

Maintaining or even gaining strength is the absolute best way to make sure that you're not losing muscle mass. If you keep pushing big weights, it'll force the body to keep its muscle since it will see it as necessary for survival.

If you reduce the amount of weight you're lifting, the body will "assume" that you don't require as much strength and that it's okay to lower your muscle mass. Why? Because muscle uses a ton of calories every day and the body will see it as expendable.

Then there is the second part of the mistake: increasing reps. Often times this is done to "cut up" a muscle. Too bad that's impossible to do.

You cannot get a muscle more cut. You can only make it bigger or smaller. To get more "cut" you need to get rid of the fat while keeping the muscle large and full.

Some people aren't stupid enough to think that lifting lighter weights for more reps works, but they still perform higher reps simply to burn more calories and accelerate fat loss.

That's fine, provided that you did your heavy lifting already. However, if you overdo the reps, you can indirectly decrease your muscle mass by impairing recovery.

When your caloric intake is reduced, your capacity to recover from training is already handicapped, so adding the burden of increased volume can lead to regression in both performance and muscle size.

The moral of the story? Do everything in your power to at least maintain your strength when dieting down, and this will not happen if you stop lifting heavy to focus on doing more pump work.

3.  Moderate Intensity, Steady State Cardio

If you decide to add cardio to your fat loss regimen, you have two options and both are at opposite ends of the spectrum: low-intensity like walking, or high-intensity like sprints and HIIT.

It's a hormonal thing. Moderate intensity/steady state cardio – the type that most people are doing when trying to lose fat – will increase cortisol levels the most. The activity is just intense enough to stimulate the release of cortisol, and also long enough to elevate it significantly.

Low-intensity cardio, however, in the form of taking a one-hour walk in the park or something, will not be intense enough to stimulate much cortisol release. In fact it might actually lower cortisol levels by having a relaxing effect.

High-intensity work, on the other hand, might lead to a lot of cortisol being produced, but the duration of the activity isn't usually long enough to lead to a large elevation.

Use longer, low-intensity work (a relaxing pace at which you can sustain a conversation) for 45-60 minutes, or high-intensity work lasting 15 minutes or less.

That's why I love loaded carries. Three to five minutes is all you need to get an amazing fat burning effect with basically zero negative impact on muscle mass. In fact, it can help you build some muscle!

4.  Cutting Too Much Too Soon

Losing fat and changing your body is an emotional issue; we want that dream body and we want it right now! That mindset leads to our fourth mistake: starting out way too abruptly.

I've seen people start their diet out with less than 50 grams of carbs and fat per day for a total of roughly 1200 calories. Add to that doing 90 minutes of cardio per day (sometimes 120 minutes spread into two daily sessions), doing circuit training in the gym, and using a powerful fat burner formula.

Great. But how long do you think someone can sustain that? More importantly, how long do you think it'll take the body to adapt?

The body will adapt to that level of deprivation and activity level in 4 to 6 weeks and fat loss will come to a screeching halt... and that is if you can make it 4-6 weeks! You'll feel depressed, have unbearable hunger, zero energy, and basically stop enjoying life. And then there is the muscle loss from such an excessive approach.

So what happens when fat loss stalls with this approach? What can you do to get it started again? You have nothing left to cut from your diet, and unless you can afford to devote your whole agenda to training, you can't ramp up the activity any further (you won't have the energy anyway).

You'll be doomed. You'll still lose some fat, but progress will be so slow that there is no way you'll be able to handle it long enough to reach your goal.

Avoid being excessive from the start. Use the dietary and cardio strategy to allow you to lose fat at an acceptable rate and train to maintain or increase your strength.

The more conservative you are while still getting good fat loss results, the more options you'll have to play with when fat loss slows down.

5.  Increasing Training Volume With More Exercise

When someone wants to get ripped he naturally tends to add exercises to his program. He does that because he believes that doing so will help him "carve" the muscle by working it from as many angles as possible. Well, you cannot carve, shape, or cut a muscle. You can only make it bigger or smaller.

Adding exercises will not work for the purpose of shaping or carving a muscle.

Can you make it bigger by adding more exercises? Sure, if you're in a caloric surplus, but when in a caloric deficit your body will have a hard time just maintaining the muscle mass it already has.

Adding a significant amount of muscle will be very hard to do if you're a natural lifter. Since you won't be in a physical state conducive to building new muscle tissue, adding more exercises will only make you burn more fuel. Which, in turn, might actually make it harder to recover from your training – not something we want when trying to preserve muscle mass.

Now, some people swear that adding exercises makes their muscles larger. This is more likely due to inflammation of the muscle tissue (which will naturally tend to increase when dieting since it's harder to recover), which can make the muscles feel and even look swollen.

But that won't last long and it won't take much time to start losing your capacity to get a pump, and that's the first sign that you're about to start losing muscle. The idea is to focus on the big money lifts to maintain your strength. You correct muscle imbalances and lagging body parts when you're in a caloric surplus, not when you're dieting down.

6.  Getting Rid of Workout Nutrition Carbs

This is probably the most common problem. I've even been guilty of it myself! For a long time carbs were thought to be the enemy of fat loss. That was especially true during the low-carb diet craze a few years back.

Nobody was as carbophobic as I was. So I understand the impulse to suddenly stop using workout carbs (before, during and post-workout) when dieting down.

But your absolute best insurance policy when it comes to preserving (and even increasing) muscle mass when dieting down is workout nutrition like Plazma™ which contains fast acting di- and tri- peptides and functional carbs.

If anything, you should increase your workout nutrient intake when dieting down, then reduce carbs and calories for the rest of the day. This will give you the maximum fat burning effect possible.

Don't be afraid of workout carbs – the highly-branched cyclodextrins in Plazma actually have fat burning effects. They won't be stored as fat, and they'll increase your rate of fat loss by allowing you to train harder and keep your metabolic rate higher.

7.  Cardio Before Bed

This was popular in some bodybuilding circles when it got out that Ronnie Coleman was doing it when preparing for the Mr. Olympia.

Performance-enhancing drugs change your physiology. For example, steroids/androgens and cortisol share a cellular messenger. Without giving you a physiology lecture, it means that the more androgens you have in your body, the less impact cortisol will have on you.

Doing cardio – especially moderate steady state cardio – will elevate your cortisol, and in the natural hormonal cycle of humans, cortisol has to be at its lowest before going to bed. Having a high cortisol level when going to bed will make it much harder to go to sleep and much harder to have a restorative sleep episode.

It will also turn your sleep period into a 7 to 10 hour-long catabolic episode, which isn't a good mix if you value your muscle mass. To maintain your muscle, recover faster from your training, and optimize your hormonal levels and cycles, avoid evening/night cardio.

It's Simple

  1. Keep lifting heavy on the big basic lifts.
  2. Do not add extra exercises.
  3. Do not try to burn more calories via weight lifting.
  4. If you decide to do cardio, choose low-intensity cardio, high-intensity/short duration cardio, or loaded carries and make sure to be in a post-absorptive state. Also, avoid doing cardio at night.
  5. Do not try to correct lagging muscle groups when in a caloric deficit. The best you can do is maintain your muscle or increase it slightly; you can't make drastic changes at this point.
  6. Don't ditch your workout nutrition carbs. Increase them.
  7. Start conservatively. Do just enough to maintain a good rate of progress – a loss of 2 pounds per week, for example – so that you keep some weapons in store for when fat loss slows down.

3 Exercises That Will Wreck You

Drop These Exercises

Few exercises are inherently dangerous, but if your posture sucks, then there are some that will be dangerous for YOU.

And it doesn't matter if you're not sedentary. Even athletes and committed lifters can learn the hard way that their posture isn't great. Luckily there are simple modifications you can make in order to train hard while protecting your orthopedic health.

Here are the three movements that can put your shoulders and spine at risk. I no longer program these for the majority of my athletes. The modifications they now use actually give them a greater training effect while minimizing joint stress.

1 – The Barbell Overhead Press

Straight bar overhead pressing is one hell of a diagnostic tool. It'll tell you a lot about your spinal stability, scapular mobility, shoulder strength and function. But it's rarely a good fit for those struggling to achieve good positions.

First off, the symmetrical stance (feet parallel on the floor) has the potential to create instability and hyperextension at the lumbar-pelvic junction. It's this lack of trunk and pillar support that becomes the weakest link in the functional chain. It limits top-end loads and places unwanted stress on the spine.

Since the body is a functional unit, this hyperextension can become more notable when you lack the ability to achieve a neutral, or possibly even slightly extended, thoracic spine position. A rounded mid-back will be tough on the lower back and also on the shoulder, reducing space in the shoulder girdle for structures to properly function.

Between the lack of lumbar spine stability, thoracic spine mobility, and the ability to display functional range of motion and stability through the shoulder girdle, the overhead barbell press is risky.

2 – The Bent-Over Barbell Row

Most lifters need to be doing horizontal pulls. These help ameliorate the affects of daily slumping and sitting. But the bent-over row isn't your best bet. There are better ways to develop a muscular posterior chain.

What makes it suck? The barbell bent-over row combines a high amount of requisite stability through the lower body, pelvis, and spine while simultaneously creating dynamic tension through the musculature of the back. So again it doesn't inherently suck for everyone but it might for YOU.

Even the more elite lifters and athletes that I evaluate can't hip hinge properly with their own bodyweight (the majority at least). So telling them to try and maintain a hip hinge isometrically, while powerfully lifting and lowering a heavy bar, is absurd.

If you lack the ability to do a proper hip hinge (a bow not a squat), this should automatically exclude you from the barbell bent-over row. It's a red flag that you shouldn't be getting in any bent-over position that also involves dynamic movement from the upper extremities.

You need the ability to maintain a neutral spine and pelvis in the hinge. The addition of an anteriorly loaded bar will create heavy compensation patterns. And when you're tasked with moving it up and down, your spine will move back and forth into flexion and extension, dumping the pelvis anteriorly and posteriorly during every rep. This is bad.

With a majority of the movement generated from joints and non-contractile structures, the poorly positioned bent-over row not only steals the muscular emphasis we're targeting, but places the body in a potentially injurious position, especially when training extended rep ranges and sets which involve cumulative postural fatigue.

3 – The Barbell Upright Row

There's no exercise more notorious for messing up the shoulders than the upright row. And everybody knows it, which is why there are a dozen modifications in hand placement, bar path, and setup. They're all invented to make this exercise easier on the shoulder girdle. But why play with fire when there are safer alternatives that'll get you the same benefits?

The traditional upright row creates increased anteriorly-directed joint stress to the shoulder girdle, especially when shoulder mobility and thoracic spine positioning are less than perfect.

The lack of respectable posturing through the upper quadrant can create more of an internally rotated movement at the gleno-humeral joint, reducing the area of structures to freely slide and glide through. An imperfect posture can also keep the shoulder blades from functioning smoothly and synergistically against the thoracic cage.

This movement has a tendency to shift tension from the medial delts (which most lifters are attempting to target with this) to the upper traps. And that defeats the purpose because you can develop your upper traps in a gazillion more effective and less dangerous ways.

If your posture is dysfunctional don't even try to program modified versions of the upright row. The cost to benefit ratio is too small, even for athletes and lifters with great posture and healthy shoulders.

The Best Damn Workout Plan For Natural Lifters

Here's what you need to know...

The number one mistake by natural lifters is doing too much volume. You need to trigger protein synthesis and then stop training.
Frequency is also super important. Hitting a muscle three times per week is the optimal frequency for natties.
The key to growth is to have a big disparity between protein synthesis and protein breakdown. The more volume you use, the more you break down protein.
The best split for the natural is the push/pull split. It's both physically and psychologically beneficial.

Don't Train Like Drug-Enhanced Genetic Freaks

If you're a natural lifter, you can't train like an enhanced bodybuilder or action movie star. And if you have average genetics, you can't train like a genetic freak. Sure, it's tempting to copy the training programs of those we admire, but always chasing the next "star program" will get you nowhere.

So how should natural lifters should train to get the best results? Basically like this:

Do a push/pull split (or push+quads/pull+hamstrings) 6 days a week.
With that amount of frequency, you only need one exercise per muscle group and three total sets: two sets of moderate intensity to get ready, then one hard set.
Use different methods and exercises on the three different weekly workouts.

The Number One Natty Mistake

The most common mistake made by those who don't use performance enhancing drugs is doing too much volume. The whole purpose of training to build muscle is to trigger protein synthesis. Once it's been triggered, there is no added benefit in continuing to punish a muscle – it will not grow more. In fact, it might even lose size!

The key to growth is to have a big difference between protein synthesis (building muscle) and protein breakdown (mobilizing amino acids from muscles for energy). The more volume you do, the more protein breakdown you get. You don't want that.

Frequency is King

To maximize growth, frequency is king. That not only applies to how often you train a muscle per week, but also the number of training sessions you do per week.

Frequency is crucial for the natural lifter because the actual training session is the stimulus to trigger protein synthesis. In other words, the workout itself is what puts you in anabolic mode, whereas the enhanced bodybuilder doesn't need to use the workout as a trigger. The enhanced lifter is in anabolic mode 24 hours a day!

So the more often you train, the more your body stays in an anabolic state and the more muscle you'll build. But don't forget that frequency and volume are inversely related. Remember, you can't do a high volume of work if you have a high frequency of training when you're natural.

Frequency works better than volume. Hitting a muscle three times per week is the optimal frequency for a natural trainee (with a low volume to compensate for the increase in frequency). Train six days a week, doing short, low volume workouts hitting half the body each time. That's the only way to get the optimal frequency without the excessive cortisol release.

The Training Split

The best split, both physically and psychologically, is the push/pull split:

Pulling Muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Back
  • Biceps
Pushing Muscles
  • Quads
  • Pecs
  • Delts
  • Triceps
Each push or pull workout will have 4 exercises – one per muscle group (two for back since it's made of many different muscles).

Workout A: Pull Workout
  • Hamstring exercise
  • Lats/back-width exercise
  • Rhomboids/rear delt exercise
  • Biceps exercise
Workout B: Push Workout
  • Quad exercise
  • Pec exercise
  • Delt exercise
  • Triceps exercise
You do three pull workouts and three push workouts three times per week, using different exercise at every workout. While you can use any exercise you want, when possible I like to use 2 multi-joint exercises and 1 isolation exercise.

For example, our first hamstring workout of the week might consist of Romanian deadlifts while the second might consist of lying leg curls. The third hamstring workout of the week – the isolation move – might consist of glute ham raises.

How Many Sets and How Should I Do Them?

You will do two preparation sets for each exercises. These are sets where you get the feeling for the weight and decide what training weight you'll use for the work set(s). It also gets some blood in the muscle to increase the mind-muscle connection.

These sets are not typical warm-ups. They're done with weights close to your working set weight, or you can even use the same weight as your work sets but do fewer reps. Basically, your level of effort on these two sets is about 7 out of 10.

Then you'll do one all-out work set. This will use a special technique/method (explained below) and need to be taken to technical failure (but don't go to the point where you need to cheat to get the weight up). These special techniques will only be used on the third and last set of each exercise:

1 – Heavy Double Rest/Pause

  • Pick a weight you can do around 4-6 reps with.
  • Do your 4-6 hard reps, rest 10-15 seconds, do another 2-3 reps, rest 10-15 seconds, and then try to get an additional 1-2 reps.
  • Always use the same weight. You only do one set of this special technique/method.

2 – Maximum mTor Activation

Here the key is how you perform each rep. Accentuating the eccentric (negative) and loaded stretching are the contraction types that increase mTor activation the most. So with this method you'll do as follows:
  • Lower the weight over a 5-second count while tensing/flexing the target muscle as hard as possible at all times.
  • Hold the full stretch position for 2 seconds per rep.
  • Do 6-8 reps like this, and on the last rep hold the stretch position for as long as you can tolerate. Again, you only do one set of this special technique/method.
  • 3 – 6-8-10 Drop Set

  • Start the set with a weight you can lift for 6 reps.
  • Drop the weight down immediately by 25-40% (depending on the exercise) and do 8 reps with that new weight.
  • Drop another 25-40% and perform 10 more reps.
  • Rest as little as possible between the parts of the drop set. Only perform one set of this special technique/method.

The Program

This program is unconventional, at least when compared to most modern-day plans, but how has conventional been working for you so far?

Monday – Workout A1
  1. Romanian Deadlift:  2 sets of 6 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set
  2. Pronated Lat Pulldown or Pull-Up:  2 sets of 6 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set
  3. Bent-Over Lateral:  2 sets of 8 and one 6-8-10 drop set
  4. Standing Barbell Curl:  2 sets of 6 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set

Tuesday – Workout B1
  1. Front Squat:  2 sets of 6 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set
  2. Bench Press:  2 sets of 6 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set
  3. Dumbbell Lateral Raise:  2 sets of 6 and one 6-8-10 drop set
  4. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set

Wednesday – Workout A2
  1. Lying Leg Curl:  2 sets of 6 and one 6-8-10 drop set
  2. Straight-Arm Pulldown or Dumbbell Pullover:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set
  3. Pronated Chest-Supported Row:  2 sets of 8 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set
  4. Preacher Curl:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set

Thursday – Workout B2
  1. Leg Extension:  2 sets of 6 and one 6-8-10 drop set
  2. Pec Deck or Cable Crossover:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set
  3. Military Press or Dumbbell Shoulder Press:  2 sets of 6 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set
  4. Close-Grip Decline Bench Press or Dip:  2 sets of 6 and one all-out heavy double rest/pause set

Friday – Workout A3
  1. Glute Ham Raise or Reverse Hyper:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set
  2. Supinated Lat Pulldown:  2 sets of 6 and one 6-8-10 drop set
  3. Neutral-Grip Cable Seated Row:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set
  4. Dumbbell Hammer Curl:  2 sets of 6 and one 6-8-10 drop set

Saturday – Workout B3
  1. Hack Squat Machine or Leg Press:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set
  2. Incline Bench Press or Incline Dumbbell Press:  2 sets of 6 and one 6-8-10 drop set
  3. Dumbbell Front Raise on Incline Bench:  2 sets of 6 and one maximum mTor activation set
  4. Rope Triceps Extension:  2 sets of 6 and one 6-8-10 drop set