The Information Problem

Just the other day I was thinking that it's hard to believe my first published training article, The Creation of a T-man, ran just over 2 years ago. It seems like just yesterday.

So, in a fit of nostalgia, I clicked the little ol' link at the lower left hand portion of the T-mag home page, the link that says "Previous Issues," and took a walk down memory lane. After reading the T-man article again, I thought–in what must have been a moment of temporary delusion–that I might go ahead and take a quick gander at each of the training articles published by T-mag since the publication of my first training article.

Once I hit the December 28, 2001 issue, I gave up, teetering on the brink of retinal burnout.

After all, in those 6 short months, I counted at least 39 articles devoted to improving some aspect of one's lifting program. At a rate of 39 training articles per 1/2 year, we can assume that about 176 strength training related articles have been published from June of 2001 to October of 2003.

Now, while not all of these articles present comprehensive training programs, each article focuses on something strength-training related, like increasing your maximum bench press, increasing neural recruitment, increasing hamstring strength, preventing bench press injury, or training to melt fat. Now that's a lot of awesome training information!

Despite the wealth of training information provided, however, I'm noticing a puzzling and disturbing trend. It seems that more and more individuals are spending an inordinate amount of time learning about building a great physique but very little time actually building that great physique. It's as if many people have lost sight of the true prize afforded by learning about training and nutrition–the ability to use that knowledge to affect change.

If you're like most of the people I meet every day, your self-justification defenses are tingling like Spiderman's spidey senses. So I urge you to take an honest look at how much time you spend reading about training and nutrition and compare that time spent to the amount of physique progress you've made. Hopefully it's worth it.

For those of you still unconvinced there's a problem, all we need to do is take a look outside the scope of this subculture and look at the health and weight loss industries. In both of these multi-billion dollar empires, there's more good exercise and nutrition information than ever, but there are also more and more sick and obese people than ever.

So I continually ask the question; "Why the divorce between knowledge and result?"

While the answer to this question is beyond the scope of this particular article, I'd like to offer two potential explanations for this phenomenon. First, it's my opinion that many people get confused when they're presented with a barrage of facts divorced from the context necessary to implement these facts into a comprehensive strategy.

If I tell you to eat a low glycemic index food but don't tell you which foods are low on the glycemic scale, the suggestion is worthless. Furthermore, if I tell you how to rehab a knee injury but don't show you how to fit it into the context of your entire program, you'll probably skip either the rehab or the other training since you don't know how they should be integrated.

Finally, if I give you a training program and then tell you that you should eat "a healthy diet" to complement it, you'll probably fail on the diet part because who the heck knows what "a healthy diet" is?

If you fancy yourself hardcore, you'll probably berate these types of individuals for not doing more reading on these topics so they can implement them. But over the years I've come to the conclusion that one need not earn a degree in nutritional physiology to earn the right to eat healthier and improve their body composition and health profile.

Moving on, the second reason why knowledge and results are often divorced is that many individuals are simply too lazy to do the work necessary to have a great physique. You know who these individuals are. They spend so much time talking about training and nutrition each day that they hardly train. And when they do train, they're so busy counting time under tension numbers and rest intervals that they never really focus on unleashing the beast and pushing up big weights.

That's right...I said, "unleashing the beast" and I'd say it again. I'm convinced that each and every one of us has the beast within and when we hit the gym, we need to summon the beast to do our bidding. I've heard people talk about finding inner balance and peace while you train. I'd like to beat those people between sets of dead lifts. To train hard and develop an outstanding physique, you must "find the anger" within and unload it on the bar. Not only will you feel better when you've done the workout, having purged your subconscious inner demons, but you'll also have stimulated the body to improve through brute acts of force and strength.

How's that for motivational?

Unleashing the beast, though, is hard work and many find this work far too hard to do. So rather than going into this zone, they try to replace raw, hard lifting with the acquisition of knowledge; the more they learn the better they feel about their wussified lifting protocol. Well, they feel better for about 90% of the time because they convince themselves that they're better than the "meatheads" who just go out there and lift. But the other 10% of the time is spent in stark naked shame, trying to hide from the fact that they don't have the courage to take their lifting to that level of intensity necessary to create change.

So, regardless of whether you're confused by too much out of context information or too wrapped up in the information side to actually unleash the beast, to feel the primal joy of lifting a heavy bar, this article is for you. With it I hope to present a novel integrated nutrition, training, and supplement program that I've used with great success.

Furthermore, I hope to demonstrate exactly what kind of training it takes to build a 195 lb physique that holds less than 5% body fat. After all, it's not a neuromuscular theory that gets a 365lb barbell off my chest during the 3rd rep of a bench press set; it's my daily commitment to success in the gym.

Nasty Side Effects

After using the original T-man strategies (separate strength and hypertrophy phases connected by ample rest weeks and "bridge programs" that allow for a gradual change from one type of training to another) effectively for a few years, I began getting constant challenges from my strength and power athletes to train with them. After all, my max strength was better than almost every one of them so they wanted to be strong like me.

Truth be told, however, I knew they were more "athletic" than me so I was a bit embarrassed that they might be able to beat me in the speed and agility exercises. So I holed myself away and got better at speed and agility work so that I could then compete with these guys. Finally, when I began to train with these guys, I was able to hold my own. There's nothing like being able to sprint with, clean with, and out-lift elite athletes up to 8 years younger than you (well, unless you're 18, then it isn't so gratifying bullying the pee-wee football teams, but when you're 29...).

Interestingly, the combined strength and power work I was doing in the gym had one major side effect that I hadn't bargained for. It added a nice chunk of mass to my physique as well. Considering that the combined strength and power training I was doing was fun and was making me much bigger and stronger while quicker and more agile, I realized that this was a comprehensive program that I needed to share with the T-mag audience. So here it is:

Break Out The Log – The Training Log, That Is

Phase 1 – Training – 4 weeks

The first 4 weeks of this training program come right on the heels of a traditional bodybuilding program as outlined in the original T-man article. Therefore this 4-week program is designed to get the body accustomed to lifting heavy weights repeatedly by creating both rapid neural and muscular adaptations in the largest muscle groups.

Odd numbered days are the primary lifting days. The first exercise of each odd numbered day is designed to be performed with moderate loads (in the neighborhood of 60-70% of max) and maximum speed, making this exercise the power-building exercise of the system.

The second exercise of each odd numbered day is performed with maximum weight with no concern for bar speed, making this exercise the strength increasing exercise of the system. And the final exercises of each odd numbered day are performed as body weight exercises taken just short of failure on each set.

The even numbered days focus on working "auxiliary" body parts like arms, abs, and some upper back work (my upper back needs constant attention). By utilizing a higher repetition approach, these body parts are metabolically challenged and called upon to adapt, but the high repetition nature of the exercises should allow for less central nervous demand between major lifting days.

Since these days also work overall conditioning via cycle sprints, they'll get you ready for more intense sprint work during next phase.

Here's the program, including the weights I used during week one:

Day 1: Monday:

Bench: 8 sets x 3 reps (315, 315, 315, 315, 325, 325, 325, 325 lbs)

Day 2: Tuesday:

Weighted Ab Crunches on cable crossover: 3 sets x 15 reps (150 lbs x 3 sets)

Day 3: Wednesday:

Squat: 8 sets x 3 reps (405, 405, 405, 405, 425, 425, 425, 425)

Day 4: Thursday:

**Dragon Flags: 3 sets x 1-2 reps short of failure (8, 8, 8)

Day 5: Friday:

Deadlifts: 8 sets x 3 reps (405, 405, 405, 405, 425, 425, 425, 425)

Day 6: Saturday

Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets x 15 reps (15 X 3)

Phase 1 - Nutrition and Supplement Plan – 4 weeks

During this phase, nutrition intake is the same on all training days. On Sunday (an offday from training), eliminate workout drinks.

Meal 1 – Breakfast 8:00 AM

2 cups spinach

1 piece fat-free cheese

1-cup pineapple

*While cooking breakfast, drink 1 serving Power Drive in 1L water (if it doesn't keep you up)


Meal 2 – Snack 11:00 AM

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 scoops Low Carb Grow!

*Mix all ingredients together (except fish oil)


Meal 3 – Lunch 2:00 PM

1-cup (measured cooked) lentils

1-tablespoon fresh garlic

1-cup carrots


Meal 4 – Snack 5:00 PM

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 scoops Low Carb Grow!

*Mix all ingredients together (except fish oil)


Workout – 6:00 PM

1 scoop Gatorade

1L water


Post-Workout – 7:30 PM

1 scoop Gatorade

1L water


Dinner – 9:00 PM

1/2 block Tofu cooked in soy sauce and ginger

1-cup carrots

1 apple

This nutritional plan provides about 4000 kcal with 314g protein, 455g carbs, and 117g fat. And no, the meal structure doesn't adhere rigidly to the Massive Eating plan. As I've discussed elsewhere, none of my athletes nor myself follow that program year-round. Why, you might ask? Well, the Massive Eating protocol is a tool to use in your arsenal but it's not the end all, be all of nutritional strategies like some people make it out to be. Regardless, if you do the math, you'll notice that no meals are particularly high in both carbs and fat.

With respect to food preparation, if you cook your beans and lentils for the week on the weekend, no food meal should take longer than 10 minutes to prepare. Therefore your total cooking time for the day should be 10 min per food meal (30 minutes) plus another 10 minutes to prepare all yogurt and shake meals (do this at one time in the AM) for a total of 40 minutes of food prep time per day.

If you try to generate an excuse for not being able to make this small commitment to your physique, you deserve to be dragged into the forest and beaten under the moonlight.

Phase 2 – Training – 12 weeks

This next phase is the big adaptation phase of the program. This program has done more to increase my overall strength than any other program I've done in a long time. You'll notice that the program contains a combination of power movements, strength movements, and bodybuilding movements. Because of the fact that it covers the gambit of training methodology, you should notice increases in speed, power, and body mass. The strength increases, though, blew me away.

Day 1: Monday:

Bench Press: 4 sets x 3 reps (335, 345, 355, 365 lbs)

Dumbbell LateralSide Raise: 3 drop sets 6, 6, 6 (50, 40, 30 lb dumbbell x 3 sets)


Day 2: Tuesday:

Box Squats: 4 sets x 3 reps (405, 415, 425, 445 lbs)
(note: my left knee was hurting during this phase so I squatted lighter than normal)

Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets x 10 reps (150 lbs x 3 sets)


Day 3: Wednesday:

Interval Work (Cycling) 30 seconds on 90 seconds off–using an intensity that allows for a cadence of 150 RPM for a full 30 seconds and a lower intensity that allows for a cadence of 80 RPM for 90 seconds of recovery. Do a full 30 minutes of sprint work.


Day 4: Thursday:

T-Bar Row: 4 sets x 3 reps (300 lbs x 4 sets)

Standing Barbell Press: 3 drop sets 6,6,6 (105, 85, 65)


Day 5: Friday:

Deadlift: 4 sets 3 reps (405, 465, 485, 505)

Standing Calf Raise: 3 sets 15 reps (400 lbs x 3 sets)


Day 6: Saturday:

Running Intervals: 10 x 100m sprints with 100m walk in between sprints (2-3 minutes rest)

Intensity Scheduling

This program is very demanding! Because of this, lifting as hard as you can for the full 12 weeks is a big mistake. You'll only get about 4 weeks into the program before getting injured or over trained. In order to prevent this type of burnout, you need to gradually ramp up and down in terms of intensity. You have to listen to your body and make changes as necessary. Here's how I did it:

At this point, I began to do some heavy traveling and took a full week of recovery and then began a maintenance program while on the road. However, my weights had skyrocketed, I was explosive and powerful, I had gained lean mass, and my body fat was lower than it had been in a while.

Phase 2 - Nutrition and Supplement Plan – 12 weeks

During this phase, nutrition intake was the same on all training days. On Sunday (off), the workout drinks were eliminated.

Meal 1 – Breakfast 8:00 AM

2 cups spinach

0.25 cup mixed beans

1/2 to 1 cup (weighed uncooked) oats

1 green tea with lemon

3 fish oil capsules


Meal 2 – Snack 11:00 AM

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon flax oil

5g creatine


Meal 3 – Lunch 2:00 PM

8 oz sweet potato

1 cup spinach

1/4 cups mixed beans


Meal 4 – Snack 5:00 PM

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon flax oil

5g creatine


Workout – 6:00 PM

1L water


Post-Workout – 7:30 PM

5g creatine


Dinner – 9:00 PM

8 oz sweet potato

1 cup spinach

1/4 cup mixed beans

*While cooking dinner, drink 1 serving Power Drive in 1L water

This nutritional plan provides about 4800 kcal with 350g protein, 500g carbs, and 150g fat. And while the meal structure doesn't adhere rigidly to the Massive Eating plan, it's really close.

Who's The Next Contestant?

If you've gotten this far, you've probably got some interest in the program and may give it a shot in the near future. To reiterate, I've gained about 5-6 lbs of lean body mass with a loss of an equivalent amount of fat mass in the time between the publication of the original T-man article and this one.

Furthermore, in looking over the prior article and comparing some of the numbers to those outlined in this article, you'll notice a significant improvement in strength as well. While the numbers aren't startling, readers should realize that I'm approaching my genetic limits of natural size and strength and therefore gains are slow. Apply a program to an individual with lots of room for improvement and you've got a real winner.

Following the program blindly, however, is a big mistake. If your recovery is better than mine, you'll be under worked. If your recovery is worse, you'll be overworked. It never ceases to amaze me when people print out a program, try to follow it exactly, and then bitch and moan when "that stupid program over trained me." Well what did they expect? Who led these people to believe that some generic program would be perfect for their individual needs?

Rather than taking this approach, when examining an interesting program, it's important to adapt the program to your personal recovery needs by constantly monitoring recovery (on a weekly basis) by adding some volume and/or intensity or taking some away as needed. No program is perfect for you–but every program can be adapted to work for you.

This particular program evolved for my needs. If you're an intermediate to advanced trainee who gets 8 hours of sleep per night, pays close attention to your overall nutritional program, and closely monitors recovery in an attempt to stave off over training, this program is a great starting point for you. Until next time, the creation continues with me. Hopefully it does for you, too.