Ask any guy at the local gym and he’ll tell you you need weights to build muscle. He’ll also tell you that push, pull-ups and other bodyweight exercises are nowhere near as effective for building size and strength as their gym equivalents.
If you’re a regular on Living Lean and Mean you know that’s BS.
Your muscles don’t care whether they’re being worked with weights, machines or your bodyweight. What they care about is the mechanical tension, the metabolic stress and muscular fatigue you create with your training.
You’ve been mislead
You’ve got to hand it to them. The fitness industry has done a great job.
For decades now, people have propagated the need for weight, machines and other equipment to develop the body. Getting jacked has become synonymous with pumping iron under fluorescent lights.
In most people’s minds, there simply is no alternative.
But if there was any truth to that, tell me, how did people get big thousands of years ago? How did they get strong, muscular and lean before the advent of fitness?
It wasn’t the rudimentary equipment or the magic potions people have been undoubtedly selling even back then.
We simply weren’t being manipulated to the extent you see today.
With no magazines, advertisements and TV-experts around to bullshit us, we had to figure stuff out independently. We had to experiment with different methods and become in tune with our bodies.
And that my friend is the key to real results.
The 3 Horsemen of Growth
There’s this persistent notion that you can only get a lean and athletic (“small”) physique using bodyweight training.
Absolute nonsense as evidenced by some of the calisthenics monsters out there. You can build a herculean physique with bodyweight only. Anyone claiming otherwise is either trying to sell you something or plain clueless.
But most people approach calisthenics training the wrong way. They use it merely as a warm-up or an accessory to their weight-lifting. That’s not how you build mass with bodyweight training.
There are 3 main pillars of size and strength – The 3 Horsemen of Growth. If you want to maximize your growth potential, all three need to be in line.
Eat to grow
We’ve turned the simple act of eating earth-grown nutrients into an obscenely complex science project.
Nutrition isn’t about fueling the body anymore. It’s about carbs, fats and proteins. It’s about vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. It’s about numbers.
Don’t get me wrong, I can certainly appreciate the science involved, but I know it does more harm than good to the average guy trying to get in shape.
You don’t have to know every molecular constituent of your roast beef sandwich to benefit from it. You don’t need to know the exact macronutrient breakdown of your blueberry oatmeal to build muscle.
You want a bigger, stronger body? Eat more. Eat like it’s your job.
Base your meals on whole, earth-grown nutrients and eat at regular intervals, without overeating at any one time. Load up on eggs, whole-fat dairy, meat, grains, fruits and veggies, nuts, legumes and dark chocolate.
Eat anywhere between 3-6 meals a day and avoid going extended periods without food (i.e. intermittent fasting).
To gain muscle mass, you will have to eat enough quality calories. Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 18-20. That is your starting point. Add or subtract calories to meet your individual needs (aim for a weekly gain of 0.5- 1 pounds).
Monitor how your body responds to different meals. Monitor how your body changes over the weeks and months. Use the mirror, waist measurements and the scale to gauge your success.
Your objective is not to put on scale weight (aka get fat). Your objective is to put on muscle mass (aka get jacked).
Sleep like a rock
Listen here, Jimbo.
If you want your body to perform at peak capacity you have to give it what it needs. Eating Fruity Pebbles and staying up late watching your favorite Netflix show every night is the opposite of what it needs.
Want to maximize your growth potential without drugs? Sleep 8-9 hours every night.
Sleep is nature’s growth and recovery solution. Sleep is testosterone. Sleep is growth hormone.
Sleep is critical, yet so underrated.
Ideally, you want to lie down at night, close your eyes and reopen them 8-9 hours later. You want to feel like you got knocked out by a gorilla and woke up 9 hours later, without knowing what year it is. That is quality sleep. That is the kind of sleep you need if you want to maximize your genetic potential.
The problem is most of us are chronically sleep deprived. We simply value other things more than quality sleep.
We want to watch another episode of our favorite show. We want to get hammered at the bar. We want to put the finishing touches on that new project. We’re doing anything we can to sabotage our sleep and thus our ability to recover, rebuild and grow.
Compromised sleep will lead to compromised results.
Here’s how you get the most out of your Z’s?
- Stop using any electronic devices 60 minutes before hitting the sheets
- Completely black out your room (i.e. cover every light source)
- Don’t consume caffeinated beverages after 4 PM
- Unwind before bed: Read, log your workouts, plan the next day, have sex
- Keep your bedroom cool
Train for size
If you want more meat on your frame, you have to tell your body in a sharp and affirmative tone:
“Listen here, buddy.
I’m tired of being a skinny wimp who can’t even open a jar of pickles without summoning the entire neighborhood for help.
I’m tired of looking like I just escaped a Vietnamese prison camp.
I’m tired of knowing that if I were hanging from a cliff, I couldn’t even pull myself up to save my life.
I’m tired of never being taken seriously.”
The issue here is your body doesn’t really speak your language. It doesn’t care how smart, articulate or persuasive you are. If you want it to respond you have to get physical.
You have to force a response through hard, consistent and dedicated work.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to live in the gym, no. What it means is you work your muscles 3-4x every week, you track your progress and focus on perfecting your exercise form, adding repetitions and/or sets over time.
You do not focus on what Jimmy’s doing. You’re focusing exclusively on yourself, your individual requirements and your weekly progress.
And when it’s time to train, you go blind to all distractions. You go deaf to your inner bitch that’s telling you to quit because “it hurts”.
You start moving your body and you forget everything else around you. You start moving your body and you become who you need to be.
That is the secret to building thick, dense and powerful muscle regardless of where, when and with whom you train.
Stronger Than Iron
This year, I’m going to build my biggest, strongest and meanest physique ever. I’ve never been more motivated, more driven and more dedicated to this journey.
I want it all. And I want it now.
At 33 years of age, I will max out my God-given potential and I will take you along for the ride.
The Stronger Than Iron series will detail every step of the way. From training to eating to everything in between. No details will be spared. No punches will be pulled.
Buckle up and hold on to your seats. This is the ultimate bodyweight training transformation.
Thank you for reading