We posed the following question to 7 Testosterone coaches:
What one thing has made the biggest difference in your training when it comes to putting on muscle?
The answers varied enormously, but one of them might provide the clue you've been waiting for.
Darren Ellis – Big Money Exercises
I don't train my arms much. I never work my calves. And I can go weeks without doing any core exercises. Why? Hey, I like to do arms as much as the next guy, but I'm too busy.
I usually manage to free up an hour in the afternoon and by the time I've been through a dynamic warm up, mobility drills, and a foam roller session (which I consider essential if I want to be lifting when I'm sixty), I need to make sure the exercises I choose give me the most bang for my buck.
Roughly translated, "bang" means squat, dead lift, snatch, chin, and press.
So why is it that so many people I see in the gym with limited time spend it training their arms? It makes no sense whatsoever, but I used to do it, too.
Years of wasted effort on isolation exercises such as leg extensions, triceps kickbacks, and crunches. It took a long time before the fog lifted and I could see more clearly, but once I jettisoned the majority of small muscle work in favor of compound lifts, my strength and muscle increased dramatically.
I still train this way today. Three to four quality exercises, three to four times a week. The last time I had only a half hour to train, I did dead lifts.
That's all, just dead lifts.
The time before that I super-setted front squats with bench. Nowadays if I'm ever lucky enough to free up a little more time for my workout, thenI might do a set or two of biceps, a big core movement such as
windmills, or maybe some grip work. But more often than not, I'll just do more dead lifts.
Justin Hardin – Better Nutrition
Without a doubt, the biggest thing that I did to add muscle was to pay more attention to nutrition.
Proper nutrition and supplementation – at all times of the day – were what took me from being one of the big guys at the gym to being the biggest guy at the gym.
Realizing the need to be as smart about my nutrient intake each and every meal is what took me to the level of looking like a "bodybuilder." I'm as diligent with all meals, every day, as I am in my "anabolic window" post workout meal.
In short, I included complete protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats in each of my meals and that sped up my progress almost immeasurably.
Dan John – Five Days a Week
For me, it was meeting Dick Notmeyer, who badgered me into working legs five days a week. I front-squatted twice a week and did the O lifts three days a week.
So, deep and heavy triples in the front squat took me from being a 162-pound high school senior to a 202-pound College Freshman in four months.
Sometimes we'd only add five more pounds for another set of triples and I can still remember double-checking to see that we'd put just two and a half pound plates on each side instead of quarters.
Yet, I blew up. I still push front squats on everybody who'll listen to me.
Mike Roussell – All in the Timing
One of the most effective muscle building strategies that I use is to increase feeding around the workout.
While people may sigh and say "Not just another 'eat more' tip," hear me out as this is not the case. You could always just eat more, but the key is not how much you consume but how you assimilate it and how fast it gets into your system.
I call this the "Layered Kinetic Approach to Nutrient Timing." The name comes from the fact that we're going to "layer" on top of one another several different meals that have different absorption speeds to maximize anabolism and recovery.
Now, "Normal" nutrient timing is when you consume 1 serving of Surge spread across your workout, followed by a whole food meal 45-60 minutes after your workout.
This approach is effective as it blunts cortisol, boosts insulin, and prevents muscle breakdown.
That's fine and good, but here's my "Layered Kinetic Approach to Nutrient Timing."
30 minutes pre-workout – Consume 10 grams of BCAAs. These get into your system fast and ensure that when your workout begins you have elevated blood amino acid levels.
15 minutes pre-workout - Begin sipping on 1 serving of Surge with 5 grams of added micronized creatine. This is the second layer. Surge contains dextrose, maltodextrose, protein hydrosylates and BCAAs, all of which have very fast absorption times, thus guaranteeing that your blood amino acid, blood sugar, and insulin levels stay elevated throughout your workout. Continue to sip on your workout drink until the end of your workout.
End of workout – Finish left over Surge. The next layer is another 10 grams of BCAAs. This will elicit another blood amino acid spike to halt any chance of muscle breakdown while setting the stage for maximum protein synthesis.
30 minutes post-workout - Consume 20 grams of whey protein and Gatorade or fruit juice. This is the first layer where we choose foods with a slower absorption profile. The whey protein (preferably whey isolate) does not get absorbed as fast as the whey hydrosylate in Surge, but it's still quicker than whole foods.
60 minutes post-workout – Eat a plate of scrambled egg whites and white rice. Whole food meals are digested slower than liquid meals but because there's no fiber or fat in this combination; it gets into your system very quickly, allowing for a fast and continuous stream of nutrients to be shuttled to your re-fueling muscles.
105 minutes post-workout – Chicken breast, broccoli (or fibrous vegetable of your choice), brown rice (or sweet potato), and olive oil. This meal contains all whole foods with fiber and fat, allowing for slow digestion.
Amino Acids and carbohydrates will now be slowly spilling over into your system, allowing for maximum recovery and growth but also preventing a blood sugar crash (which isn't conducive to muscle growth).
Jimmy Smith: No Fear
The single most beneficial thing that I ever did to increase my muscle size was to get over my fear of carbohydrates.
It's not the sexiest choice and most people are looking for some type of magic bullet but until they get over the misguided fear of carbs, no new supplement or training method is going to do the trick. For one, carbs are protein sparing, which means that we won't have to consume anywhere near as much protein as we currently are.
When carbs are high, the amino acids in our blood stream are better used. Second, amino acids plus carbs has been shown to lead to greater rates of protein synthesis, which ultimately determines how much muscle we add.
In short, they aren't the big, ugly girl in the corner of the school dance, as most people would lead you to believe. Put them in a properly structured diet and the fat gain will be small and the muscle mass will go through the roof.
Christian Thibaudeau – Blast the Biceps
Arm flexors (biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis) have always been a weak point of mine. Over the years I've tried pretty much every routine known to man to make my arms grow.
Nothing really worked, until I began to train my arm flexors according to proper biomechanics. Now my arms are a strong point. Here are some lessons I learned to maximize arm growth:
1. To maximize arm growth you must develop all portions of the upper arm flexors. This means both portions of the biceps, the brachialis and the brachioradialis.
2. To do so, you must select the exercises and training methods best suited to do the job.
To work the inner portion of the biceps, do wide-grip, elbows-in curls, focusing on ''squeezing'' the elbows in when you lift the weight.
To work the outer portion of the biceps, do close grip, elbows-out curls, spreading the elbows out when you lift the weight.
To work the brachialis, use a hammer grip or a slower lifting speed – or even isometrics – as these increase the involvement of the brachialis over the biceps.
To work the brachioradialis, use a reverse grip curl, and don't forget to flex the wrist as you lift the weight
One last thing: arm flexors respond especially well to constant tension training (CTT). CTT means performing an exercise without everrelaxing the working muscle.
The tempo is slow and controlled (3-0-3 is fine) and you must squeeze the biceps as hard as you can on every inch of every rep. The key is to never relax the muscle to prevent oxygen from coming into the muscle.
This increases the release of growth factors and makes the muscle more responsive. Such a technique is better left only to isolation work, which is why it's so effective for building the biceps.
Looks good, but the arms are flat.
Ready for War.
Christian Thibaudeau #2 – Suck Down the BCAAs
I've always been a huge proponent of a properly designed post-workout shake and for one good reason-it works big time!
In fact, optimizing post-workout nutrition (Surge being by far the best product out there, especially the new version) is one of the few supplement strategies that really lives up to wildest expectations. (That's not to say that other supplements don't work, but rather than post-workout nutrition is that damn good!)
In fact, I never thought I'd actually find a strategy that would give me results on par with proper post-workout nutrition...until I listened to Coach Poliquin, Dr. Serrano, and Dr. DiPasquale and started to use high doses of BCAAs during my workouts.
Using at least 20g of BCAAs (and preferably up to 40g) spread throughout your workout will really jack you up. Just like the post-workout meal, it's simple, not very ''sexy,'' but well worth it!
Chad Waterbury – Increase Your Training Frequency
I've never used a more powerful muscle-building approach than a properly planned High Frequency Training (HFT) program. Your worst body parts can become your best within a matter of 6 weeks if you dramatically increase your training frequency.
Why? I believe it's simply an issue of forced supercompensation. The human body will respond to any demand that's placed on it. If you've been training your hamstrings twice-a-week for the last few years, it really doesn't matter what you do in those two sessions because your body has adapted to that frequency.
Once you dramatically increase your training volume through more frequent training sessions, you immediately put a huge stress on the muscles by overloading them. The only option is for those muscles to get bigger and stronger.
Work up to 8-10 workouts per week for your lagging body parts with a different exercise each session during the week and you'll be amazed at your results.