Building a Better Body
Interestingly, when I made the comment that it's easy for me [to get in shape], Shaun jumped into the conversation and emphatically stated…
“It's not easy. No way. It's simple!”
And you know what? He was right.
It's not easy to get into shape. To eat better. To train harder. To set a plan in place. Rather, it's simple. It's simple to make such small changes in your lifestyle. And as a result, create such incredibly satisfying and rewarding changes in your physique.
I told Shaun he was right. Building a better body and getting into tiptop shape isn't easy.
What I got from our conversation was a little perspective on this subject. That is, whenever I decide I am going to get into better shape, it is easy for me because I know what to do. That's the difference.
See, most people, when they make the decision to get into their best shape (whether it's their first time or a second, third, or forth time trying), simply don't know what to do. For that reason, for them, it's not easy.
“It's simple to make such small changes in your lifestyle. And as a result, create such incredibly satisfying and rewarding changes in your physique.”As Shaun and I talked more, we found there were many other things we had in common. One of which was that we both agreed that most people tend to make this topic more complicated than it needs to be. And if people really knew how simple the changes they need to make to build a better body are, many, many more people would do it.
So, after dinner I promised Shaun I would start by sharing my personal view on building a leaner, healthier, more muscular body in our upcoming newsletter. To help others understand how each lifestyle change works together—along with how simple weight training, diet, and supplements really can be.
Therefore, what I'd like to do is take you through a typical day for me. Using specific examples, I'll guide you through how I follow my own Maximum Growth Program. Basically, I'll show you how, when, and what I eat; which supplements I use; and how I follow the exercise plan.
But before we start, there's something I need to tell you. There are plenty of ways to gain muscle size and strength and build a head-turning body, and in no way am I proclaiming that my way is the only way. (Far too many self-professed “experts” do this already!) What I can honestly say is these techniques and tools are simply what have worked for me—year after year—and continue to work for countless others. And if you follow them, for at least four weeks, you will absolutely, positively achieve greater gains in strength and size and lose more bodyfat. Results you can be damn proud of. I promise.
Are you ready? Great. Let's get started.
First, I can't understate the importance of planning. Before I even consider anything else, I always, always make sure I have my entire day planned in advance. For me, there could be nothing more integral to my success. In fact, whenever I don't plan my days, I notice that everything feels “out of control” the next day. And it is. (Maybe this has happened to you?) That's why I always take about 15 to 20 minutes each night, before I go to bed, and plan out my next day's workout, prepare my meals, write my most important “To-Dos,” and as corny as it sounds, pick out my clothes to wear. I can't tell you how much time the next day this nightly ritual saves me. I'd bet over ten times.
“…whenever I don't plan my days, I notice that everything feels “out of control” the next day.”If you're already good at planning, then you'll certainly agree. If not, then I'd encourage you to start tomorrow and adopt this results-producing, fantastic habit. Remember, the only thing that separates those who are successful from those who are not are habits. It's easy to see those who follow good habits are much more likely to be successful, and those who follow haphazard, free-spirited habits, are usually less successful. You get the point.
So now let's take a closer look at exactly how I apply these techniques and tools to my new, improved Maximum Growth Program (which, by the way… has been completely updated and revised with a full 8-week Program, new diet plans, weight-training routines, and even a section which provides explanations and pictures of each exercise. It is at the printers right now, and I plan to produce only 1,000 to start. So, if you'd like to reserve your copy today, so you don't get left behind, please call us at 1-866-688-7679 and tell whoever answers that you are a regular reader of Real SOLUTIONS and you want to reserve your copy of Volume 2 of Maximum Growth. Like I said, there will only be 1,000 copies printed, and since they are free—all we ask is a measly $5 to pay for postage and handling—I expect these will go quickly. Don't get left behind. Call us now. The number is 1-866-688-7679. Even the call is free! Or, click here and fill out your information online: Maximum Growth).
Luckily, a great deal of the planning “work” has already been done in my new book. We've laid out the days you should work out. Pointed out exactly which body parts to train. We've even planned the exact number of sets, reps, and time to rest for each workout. On top of that, we included seven full sample meals—from breakfast, to pre-and post-workout, to nighttime meals—so you can easily put together your daily eating plan.
Believe me, when you look at how much of the guesswork we've taken out of building muscle and gaining strength with the Maximum Growth Program, you'll realize it doesn't get much better than this. In fact, if someone had offered me a Program like this one when I first started out, I would have paid a couple of hundred dollars for it, easily.
(To me, it seems no one wants to really help you like this any longer… they just want you to buy their supplement, shake your hand, say “good luck,” and send you on you way. I don't agree with this approach. I feel it's much more important to provide a plan, a path, and every bit of assistance I can to help you reach your goals. I honestly really care about people).
Anyway, let's get back to how I put everything together as I follow the Maximum Growth Program to build my best body:
Once I've planned my Weight-Training journal sheet, I move onto my nutrition plan. From the first to the last meal, including the supplements I'll take and how much water I plan to drink. I don't like to leave anything to chance, and as a result, I usually stay right on course each day. I've found the closer you follow your plan, the faster you reach your goals. There are really no two ways about it. I've also provided blank Daily Meal Plan Sheets here, so you can print out copies and use them to plan and write out your meals each day.
If you read through the Maximum Growth Program, you'll notice my total calories are somewhat higher than the examples I've provided in The Meals section. That's because I weigh around 220 lbs and the examples I've provided are for a 175-lb person. You might weigh more or less than this, so you'll need to calculate your daily calorie and protein needs for your desired weight. Once you do that, it's pretty easy to plan your meals.
Or, you can simply look at the daily sample meal plans we've provided for you. From there, you can pick and choose which meals most closely match your likenesses for particular foods and then adjust the portion sizes to meet your calorie and protein needs. If you have trouble figuring out how to do this, I encourage you to give us a call (anytime), and one of our friendly, qualified fitness experts will be glad to help you out. We can be reached from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (MST). If we don't answer your call, please leave a message, and we'll call you back right away. Our number is 1-866-688-7679.
Now that I've written out the meals I plan to eat the following day, I'm about 50% done with my planning. Next I prepare the meals I am going to eat. Since tomorrow is going to be a busy day for me (and I have a luncheon meeting), I plan on eating two whole-food meals and three nutrition shakes… so I'll need to make the meals in advance. After preparing my tuna pita sandwich and putting my cooked brown rice in a Tupperware bowl, I grab the rest of my fruits, bottled water, and supplements and put them in my shoulder bag to take to work with me the next day. I always double-check my supplement case to make sure I've got enough supplements to last me the entire week. (If you don't have a supplement case, I'd encourage you to get one. They are pretty inexpensive and very convenient to use. You can buy a pocket case online at WebVitamins.com.)
Because I usually train in the mornings, I keep most of my breakfast foods, like oatmeal and condiments like Splenda® sweetener, at the office since that's where I eat after my morning workout. I also keep a spare container of Eat-Smart (my favorite meal replacement shake) at the office too, so I don't need to lug it back and forth—from home to work and from work back to home. That can be annoying.
Now that I've written out my goal weights for my next workout; written out and prepared the meals I plan to eat tomorrow; made sure I've got the supplements I need to use, the final thing I do is prepare my clothes. Since I work out in the morning, I make sure I've got a comfortable T-shirt, a pair of track pants, some socks and underwear, and my tennis shoes and baseball hat laid out. Then, I pack the clothes I'll wear at work in my gym bag. Last, I make sure I've got my iPod (a digital headphone/music system that helps keep my intensity up, while working out in the early morning), wallet, keys, and cell phone… all packed and ready to go. After this, I'm off to bed. It's usually around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m.
“There's nothing more refreshing, and important, than a tall glass of water first thing in the morning.”The next morning, just like I do every day, I wake up at 5:15 a.m. Without hesitation, before getting dressed, I head for the kitchen and pour a large glass of water. There's nothing more refreshing, and important, than a tall glass of water first thing in the morning. Especially considering your body hasn't had any food or liquids for about seven to eight hours. Typically, most people would make a cup of coffee at this point—to help them “get going.” But I don't feel this way. I think coffee actually robs your body of energy, instead of really giving it to you. As you know, when you drink coffee, the increase in energy only lasts about an hour, until it wears off, leaving you feeling worse than you did before. This is called the “crash.” I hate the way this makes me feel.
That's why I helped create and use a supplement, instead, called Energize. We developed this all-natural supplement with Dr. Mark Tallon. He is a very bright person, earning his Ph.D. in biochemistry. He even works with Olympic athletes as a nutrition consultant. Plus, he's an IronMan triathlete himself. To say this guy is brilliant, and in great shape, is an understatement.
He formulated Energize to work with your body's natural ability to produce safe, long-lasting energy. And it works especially well, either in the morning to really perk you up, or during the middle of the day to avoid the fatal midday “crash” after lunch. I absolutely love using it before I weight train. I find it clears my mind and cranks up my workout intensity. This is helpful when you train, like I do, at 6:00 in the morning!
I take two time-released tablets of Energize with my water (on an empty stomach). I head back upstairs to my bedroom, get dressed… kiss my wife and kids goodbye (while they're still sleeping), grab my gym bag, and head off to the gym.
I usually arrive at the gym a few minutes before 6:00 and, after getting my iPod headphones on with my favorite music, I'm ready to start training by 6:00 a.m. sharp. Today I am going to work out my chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. (See The Exercises section by clicking here for a detailed explanation and demonstration photos for all of the exercises I do.)
Today's weight-training workout should take no longer than my scheduled goal of 45 minutes. While it's not my goal to always finish under my scheduled time, it is important to stay within it by a couple of minutes. After my workout, I sit down on a bench and take a couple of minutes to record my final actual reps and then run a quick glance over my goal to actual planned weights and reps for each exercise. Today everything was pretty close.
Remember, when you do your workouts, you might use less or more weight than I do. That doesn't really matter. What matters most is that you keep a constant record of the actual weights and reps you did, and pay close attention to the time you rest between sets. This way, you're sure to keep your intensity levels up and make the most of your time spent in the gym. I also use this time to jot down a few notes about the workout. For instance, today I repeatedly noticed how pumped my arms felt. I got a great burn, and I was very strong. In fact, I'll need to make a note for the next time I train chest that I should increase the weights used—since I hit a new six-rep max today! This is all very important information to record.
And this is it for the weight-training portion of my day. Pretty simple, eh? Not easy, but as you'll see in my new book, it's relatively simple to follow!
“…there is absolutely, positively no better way to start your day than with an intense, focused weight-training workout.”After I finish my early morning workout, it's usually around 6:50 a.m. and it's time to get into the office and focus on my nutrition. I have to tell you, though, there is absolutely, positively no better way to start your day than with an intense, focused weight-training workout. By the time I walk into my office, my mind is refreshed, and I'm ready to take on the day's challenges.
Following the weight-training Program from Maximum Growth Volume 2 means I train with weights four days a week. I follow the calendar to the letter (which is contained in the new book as well). In fact, like I said earlier, the closer I follow my plan, the faster I see results… and the greater my progress.
Oh yeah, even though this Program doesn't suggest doing any cardio exercise, if you want to perform it, I would encourage you to do it on alternate days. On the days you don't weight train. Or, if you have the time, you can always perform cardio after you train with weights. But remember, never, ever perform cardio before your weight-training workouts or the day after you train your legs.
By the way, there is really no need to do cardio exercise any more than three times during the week and for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Any more than this will only be harmful to your muscle-building progress.
I arrive at my office at 7:00 a.m., and the very first thing I do is head for the kitchen—to eat. But not any meal will do. Because I just worked out, my body is primed for quality nutrients to help it recover and start rebuilding new, lean muscle mass. (Besides that, I haven't eaten now for nine hours, so I'm extremely hungry too!) This time is called my “open window.” My muscles will literally suck up anything I feed them during this state. That's why it's critical we combine our post-workout meal into a specific three-to-one ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
I start off by making an Eat-Smart meal replacement shake. I simply combine 20 oz of water into the blender, add three ice cubes and two rounded scoops of my Eat-Smart Base formula. Then, because I'm going to have my favorite post-workout Fruit Smoothie Maximum Muscle Shake, I add one Strawberry Cheesecake Flavor Enhancer packet to the blender. Now, for added carbohydrates, I add one-half cup of frozen strawberries. And to top it off, I add two scoops of our orange-flavored lean-mass-building supplement, Meta-CEL. Each serving of Meta-CEL provides an effective dose of creatine and D-pinitol, two compounds which have been shown in a recent study to increase absorption and retention of creatine within the body. (The more creatine you have in the body, and the longer it stays there, the more likely you are to experience greater gains in muscle size and strength and retain it for longer). The reason I use orange is because when it's mixed with the strawberry flavors already in the blender, it gives the shake a fruity taste—a lot like one of those frozen tropical fruit smoothies you get while on vacation in Mexico or Hawaii.
While blending my special Maximum Muscle shake, I heat up a bowl of water in the microwave and stir in one-half cup of old-fashioned oats. After it's heated up, I stir in two packets of Splenda sweetener. And now, for my “post-workout” meal, I've got a chilled, thick, rich nutrition shake… and a bowl of complex, heart-healthy oats… in less than a minute. That's what I call convenient. I've now provided myself with the perfect three-to-one ratio of carbs to protein, which is essential for supplying my body with the precise nutrients it needs to reach my goals. This “meal” will keep me satisfied for another two and a half hours, at least. So, I take a shower, get dressed, and start my work day by 7:30 a.m.
In between my first and second meal, I'm continually drinking water from a large bottle I keep at my desk. It is really important to stay hydrated, especially since I just trained as well (and lost a great deal of water through perspiration).
At 10:00 a.m. I'm ready for my second meal. I take a quick look at my nutrition plan, and I've got “tuna pita sandwich, brown rice, and half an apple” written down. So, I head back to the kitchen to eat just that. (I like to take paperwork back with me to read while I eat. This way I can be more efficient.) With this meal, I make sure I drink two tall glasses of water as well.
I have a luncheon meeting today, so I won't need to prepare anything in the kitchen for lunch. At 12:20 p.m., my appointment arrives 10 minutes early. We head to lunch at a favorite nearby restaurant of mine in Golden, called Blue Sky. I like this place because the servers, managers, and owner know me very well. (Keep this in mind the next time you go out to eat. Try to choose places where you can visit regularly and employees can begin to become familiar with your healthy eating habits.) I find this helps. A lot. They don't look at me like I'm crazy when I ask for egg whites and extra chicken, with no butter. This is important, because you don't want to miss out on being able to socialize and have breakfast, lunch, or dinner with your family, friends, or people you work with. It's easier to become familiar with restaurants that will happily accommodate your “healthy” eating requests. If they don't, then I wouldn't eat there any longer.
Today, just like most days when I visit Blue Sky, I order the Rambler Skillet. This dish consists of sliced potatoes, diced chicken breast, egg whites, topped with roasted pecans. It's a perfect combination of complex carbs, good quality proteins, and even essential fats (from the nuts). With lunch, I drink a glass of iced tea with a packet of Splenda and a glass of water as well.
About 30 minutes after lunch, I typically take another two tablets of Energize. This way, I am certain I won't get hit by the “mid-day crash,” which no matter how hard you try, sometimes seems inevitable. I don't always need this extra dosage of Energize, but I know I still have a lot of work to do, and I'm going to be working late. Besides that, I have several more important meetings today, and I really want to be refreshed, clear-minded, and focused for them. Energize does that for me and keeps me going strong all day.
At 3:00 p.m., I head for the kitchen to make an Eat-Smart nutrition shake. Only this time, I make a different flavor. See, that's the great thing about Eat-Smart: you can choose from a wide variety of flavors so you never get bored with them—like I did with regular chocolate and vanilla from other shakes I used to drink. This time I'm going to make a Cinnamon Roll flavored shake. And to get another 50 grams of carbs, I'll add a banana to the blender while I'm mixing it up. Man, these shakes are tasty. I know I'm a little biased, but they're almost too good if you ask me! A lot of people have emailed to tell me how much they love the flavors of Eat-Smart and that it contains such high-quality ingredients, like fiber and flaxseed oil. That makes me feel good—because we worked really, really hard to develop such a fantastic supplement.
As you can see, it's important to feed your body with protein, carbohydrates, and essential fats it needs. That's why I eat every two and half to three hours during the day.
At 5:30 p.m. I have what I call a “snack-meal.” It's not really a full meal, and it's definitely more than a snack. It's not really a part of the Program I've put together for you, but I do this differently because I know I'm going to be heading home from work in about an hour to 90 minutes, and my wife Julia… well, let's just say she's from the South and loves to cook. So, while I don't want to spoil her fantastic dinner, by eating too much too soon before we eat dinner, I don't like to go home starving. My snack-meal consists of a bowl of low-fat cottage cheese, some fruit, and a overloaded spoonful of Power Butter's peanut butter. This gives me just the right amount of protein, carbs, and some healthy fats. This type of meal will also digest more slowly and therefore I won't feel as hungry when I get home, which keeps me from overeating (which, if you ever come over to visit and eat at my house, is easy to do, with my wife's glorious cooking).
I usually arrive home near 7:00 p.m. That's when we have dinner as a family. Although my wife is a great cook, she is also very cautious of how our food is prepared. While she doesn't douse our foods in butters and unhealthy oils, she uses plenty of spices and healthy oils to really make our food taste great! Plus, one of our goals as parents is to help our children learn healthy eating habits, early on, so they can live healthier lives too. Julia always makes sure protein is the center of our meals, whether it's chicken, fresh fish, or red meat. Tonight she has prepared her famous tuna steaks with fat-free wassabi mayonnaise. A side dish of wild brown rice and asparagus accompanied the meal. (For more of Julia's meals, you can read her regular column, by subscribing to our Real SOLUTIONS magazine, or find them in The Lean System Nutrition Guide.)
Finally, at 9:30 p.m., I have another Eat-Smart shake. Only this time, I use less water than the label recommends, which makes it into a creamy pudding. I use the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup flavor. This is my absolute favorite flavor, only to a close second Cookies and Cream. After I mix it up with a spoon in a bowl, I let it sit in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Voila! It's instant dessert, only I know it's good for me.
After I finish my Eat-Smart pudding nutrition shake, I drink another serving of Meta-CEL, mixed with eight ounces of water. I always use a second serving of Meta-CEL on the days when I weight train because I know my body needs it (and will use it!). Now, with my Meta-CEL, I take a multivitamin and mineral formula (it's made by GNC, called Mega Men).
“…there is nothing overcomplicated about my workouts, my eating habits, nor the supplements I take. There is no magic.”Now, it's close to 10:00 p.m., so I sit down and review my notes from today and start my planning for tomorrow. The next day, however, I won't be weight training, so I only have to plan out my meals.
And that's it! That's how I put all of the basic pieces together to build the best body my genetics will allow. It's pretty simple, and best of all, it's worked well for me, and I'm certain it can work for you too!
As you can plainly see, there is nothing overcomplicated about my workouts, my eating habits, nor the supplements I take. There is no magic. To be honest, I'd say most people make it way more complex than it needs to be. Now, make no mistake about it, I'm not saying it's easy. Rather, I believe it's simple. It's simple to follow a plan—as long as you've carefully thought it out. The most important thing is to be consistent and treat each day as another step closer toward reaching your ultimate goals. Put enough steps together and you will not only begin to feel better about yourself and the changes you're capable of making, but you'll certainly look better too… as you steadily increase your body's ability to build muscle size, strength, personal power, and confidence.