A 24-Hour Guide to More Muscle and Energy

Reblogged from Nate Green’s blog here: http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/bigger

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“Give me a one-page bullet-list of exactly what I should do. That’s worth more to me than a stack of books that I have to dig through to get to the good stuff. I may give you 50 bucks for the books. But I’ll pay you $5,000 for the one page.”

That’s a quote from Alwyn Cosgrove, a world-famous strength coach and entrepreneur. When he told me this a couple years ago, I remember thinking he was crazy. More money for less stuff? That’s stupid.

But now I see just how smart his statement is: Information is only as good as the action you take after reading it. 

If you want to get something done, it’s usually more effective to skim the book (or article or blog post), write down what you need to do, and start. In most cases, the one-page cheat sheet is more valuable than the book.

So that’s what we’re gonna do here. Consider this post your “how to build muscle and have more energy” cheat sheet. It’s simple, quick, and incredibly effective.

We know it’s effective because twice a year we open our S2B Coaching Program, and help hundreds of guys build muscular, athletic bodies. Over the course of the year-long program, their day ends up looking something like what we have here.

What to do in the Morning

Get your ass out of bed

Hitting the snooze alarm is a sign you aren’t getting enough sleep. But we’ll take care of that problem in a bit.

Right now, get out of bed when your alarm goes off. A new day is here. Do something with it before it dies.

Drink 20oz of water

Your muscles need water to grow. Your body needs water to live. Right now, you’re dehydrated. Before you get in the shower or do anything else, drink 20 oz of cold water.

You’ll have more energy immediately.

Drink a Super Shake

If you’re a skinny guy who wants to put on weight, you need food and you need it fast. If you know you’re not gonna cook breakfast, you need to make a protein-rich Super Shake instead.

Got a blender and 3 minutes? Good. Here’s your recipe:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana (peel it the night      before and stick it in the freezer)
  • 1 handful fresh baby spinach (get the      pre-washed stuff at the grocery store)
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 1 huge spoonful of almond or peanut      butter

Blend on high. Drink.

Take your vitamins and fish oil

Even if you’re eating healthy whole foods, you can still have small deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals, deficiencies that can slow your metabolism and impair your ability to build muscle. A multivitamin can help fix that.

Also, take 5 grams (1 teaspoon) of liquid fish oil. It’s full of omega-3′s which help improve mood and motivation. (We prefer liquid, but you can also use fish-oil caps.)

Have a little caffeine

A cup or two of black coffee or green tea can help increase athletic and mental performance.

Don’t like caffeine? No problem. Skip this step and make yourself some herbal tea or have another glass of water.

What to do at work/school

Drink 20oz of water

Get used to it right now, because drinking water is gonna be a recurring theme throughout your day. Invest in a slick reusable water bottle and keep it wherever you spend the most time throughout your day. (But please don’t carry around a two-gallon milk jug of water. That’s just looks ridiculous.)

Have a Muscle Snack

The rules: protein, fat, veggies.

Food ideas: hardboiled eggs, salami, beef jerky, tuna salad, mixed nuts, peanut butter, protein powder, baby carrots, sliced bell pepper, grape tomatoes, celery, berries, apple.

No bullshit energy bars or any kind of granola, as they’re usually loaded with sugar and unpronounceable ingredients

What to do at lunch

Eat a Muscle Lunch

Your normal sandwich and chips isn’t gonna cut it.

In S2B we hate measuring food and counting calories. Instead, we like to use hand measurements to determine how much food to eat. (Why? Well, you may not have a food scale, but you probably have a hand. We hope.)

So take a look the palm of your hand. Act like you’re cupping some water that you don’t want to run through your fingers. To build muscle, you need at least 2 palms of protein (chicken, fish, beef, etc).

Now make a fist. You need 2 fists of vegetables and 1 fist of starchy carbohydrates like sweet potato, qunioa, or pasta.

Still a little confused? Check out the photo below for one of our recent Muscle Lunch meals. Make your meal look like that. Then eat it.

(Lunch tip from Nate: I almost never make my own lunch. I’ve tried before, but it’s just too time-consuming in the middle of the day. That’s why I usually have a few pre-made meals from Whole Foods ready to go.)

Read something

Yeah, this doesn’t really have anything to do with building muscle, but if you’re eating by yourself, you gotta have some reading material. And if you’re eating lunch with friends, put down your phone (or book) and have a conversation. No texting or Facebook stalking. Enjoy your meal.

Drink 20oz of water

Yes, again.

What to do in the afternoon

Have another muscle snack

Stick with the above rules or try our Easy Protein Pudding.

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 handful of raw mixed nuts
  • 2 squares of 70% or higher dark      chocolate

Stir the hell out of it with a spoon and eat.

Drink 20oz of water

You knew it was coming.

Plan your next day

This is another thing that doesn’t really have anything to do with building muscle. But it will help you be more productive and successful.

  1. Write down all the important stuff you      need to do tomorrow. Work stuff, personal stuff, everything.
  2. Set a specific time      to actually do it.

It may seem like a small, inconsequential step, but it’s incredibly powerful. Now that all your tasks and plans are out of your head and on paper with a corresponding time, you no longer have to stress out about them. It’s taken care of. Move on with your day.

What do to in the Evening

De-stress for 20 minutes

Most guys know how to go full-steam but have no idea how to chill out and calm down. Their bodies are in a constant “fight or flight” mode, their nervous system working on overdrive.

In S2B, we have our clients pick one calming task — meditate, nap, read, go for a walk, stretch, listen to relaxing music, sit in a room and do nothing — and do it every day for at least 20 minutes.

This gives their sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system a break and allows their parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system to take over.

The rules: no phones, computers, or outside distractions for at least 20 minutes.

Eat a Muscle Dinner

Same rules as the Muscle Lunch.

  • 2 palms of protein
  • 2 fists of vegetables
  • 1 fist of starchy carbohydrates

Pick different foods and maybe throw in some fruit on the side.

Drink 20oz of water

You know the drill.

Be social

Surround yourself with cool, positive people.  Remember: You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So don’t hang out with assholes.

Have sex

I mean, why not?

Follow your sleep ritual

You have a sleep ritual, right? No? Here, follow ours:

  1. No caffeine after 2PM.
  2. Turn off your TV and computer an hour      before bed.
  3. Make yourself some decaf tea, listen to      soft music, and read something light.
  4. Turn off all phones and gadgets and put      them in another room.
  5. Set your bedroom temperature to 67-70F      [19-21C.] (Ever try to sleep while sweaty? It sucks.)
  6. Take an Epsom salts bath before bed.      (The magnesium will help you sleep.)
  7. Have a small pre-bed meal. (Try cottage      cheese mixed with chopped apple, and a spoonful of peanut butter.)

Sleep for 7 hours

Getting at least 7 hours of sleep will help your body recover from your workouts, rejuvenate your brain, and improve your life.

Getting less than 7 hours can slow muscle growth and reduce brain power.

Repeat every day

Because this stuff won’t work if you just do it every now and then.

 

What about the workout program?

We left out exercise on purpose. Why?

When you’re trying to build muscle, working out isn’t as important as you may have been led to believe. 

I mean, yeah, you have to do something in the gym a few days per week. You have to stimulate your muscle fibers and give them a reason to grow and get stronger.

But if you’re more focused on what to do for the one hour you’re in the gym instead of what to do for the other 23 hours of the day, you’re simply not going to build the kind of body you want. Trust us, we’ve been there.

In the S2B Coaching Program, our guys follow our progressive workout program designed specifically for building muscle fast. But the workout program is only a small part of how we help them build a badass body.

Remember: It’s what you do outside of the gym that matters.

Of course, we can’t leave you hanging. So as long as you’re following the below rules when you work out, you’ll be good to go:

  • Train 3-4 times per week.
  • Use compound exercises.
  • Go as heavy as you can with good form.
  • Drink a post-workout shake of      fast-acting carbohydrates and protein.

 

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30 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before I Turned 30

Reblogged from Nate Green’s Scrawny to Brawny blog: http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/30-things-about-life

Written by Martin Rooney, the creator of the Training For Warriors system and a pioneer of strength and conditioning for the martial arts.

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1. I wish I spent more time deciding what I really wanted from life.

Figure out your passion and purpose. Don’t wait until 30 to find that out. Chances are the guys that figured it out earlier already have the dream house, the dream job, and the dream girl.

2. I wish I would have known protein was essential for post workout nutrition.

I went from just water and no eating, to carb-only “sports” drinks. I know I would have had way better results if current science had been available. A Gatorade just doesn’t cut it.

3. I wish I would have been more excited for other people’s success.

This will get you ahead faster than only being excited for your own success. Take time to hear what people think. You won’t ever get called a jerk for listening too much.

4. I wish I would have had a full length mirror in my house.

Then I would have known I had to train my legs, too. To think of all the times I did biceps curls instead of squats…

5. I wish I had paid attention to the effect food had on me.

Some foods made me drowsy and others gave me a throat full of phlegm. I thought it was “normal.” Now I replaced that word with “allergy.” Start figuring how foods you eat are affecting you.

6. I wish I would have known girls are more attracted to guys who have fun.

Guys who try to look big and tough miss out.

7. I wish I would have learned to keep my house and car neat.

Someday a girl is going to come to one of them and care about chewed fingernails and the stain on your pillow case. Protein bottles in the back? They smell worse than you think they do.

8. I wish I got rid of things faster.

Once your favorite t-shirt has more holes than a Tiger Woods alibi, it’s time to let it go. Same goes for the old sneakers you’ll never wear again. Same thing with resentment and ill-will.

9. I wish I would have saved more money.

Get a financial planner, an IRA going, and invest. Don’t wait until you’re married and someone else is counting on you. And regardless if you have much money or not, put some away now. Learn the Law of 7 and the idea of compounding interest.

10. I wish I would have learned that driving 20-30 miles doesn’t make a bar any better.

Odds are the bar in your town will be just as fun. And your chances of trouble (DUI, etc.) go way down.

11. I wish I would have known what kinds of food weren’t good for me.

Most labels with “Light,” “Healthy,” or “part of a nutritious diet” are really just trying to cover up how crappy the food actually is.

12. I wish I followed my instincts more.

Listen to that knot in your gut. If you think she might not be the right girl, she probably isn’t. Same goes for your job. Of all the voices you hear, your own may be the wisest and hardest to listen to.

13. I wish I had been more coachable.

Welcome feedback and understand that criticism is positive. Just like rubbing alcohol on a scrape, it will be painful at first. But you’ll be better off cleaning strategic areas of your life.

14. I wish I would have written down exactly what I wanted.

Spend more time planning where you’re going in life than planning where you are going on Friday night.

15. I wish I started my “private” university earlier.

Build your personal library and read. 20 pages a night 5 days a week turns into 100 books in 5 years. 100 books in 5 years can turn you into an expert…in anything.

16. I wish I would have know there was a rotator cuff, feet muscles, neck muscles, hip adductors and abductors.

I would have worked on those more.

17. I wish I had learned the true power of a thank you.

Since I’ve adopted an authentic “attitude of gratitude,” my life has been much smoother. Hint: send a card or gift to someone that deserves it today.

18. I wish I had not been “too busy” for my parents.

When you get older, get a real job, and get married, you only have less time for your parents. Realize that they’re people, just like you. And that they’re actually pretty smart and fun to be around.

19. I wish I used my “down time” better.

Speaking of “too busy,” never say that you are. 24 hours is enough time to get stuff done and still have fun.

20. I wish I was less concerned with what everyone else thought about me.

I now know a thick skin isn’t just important for your hands and working out. It’s important for life and not caring about other people’s opinions of you. The fastest way to be unhappy is to worry about making everybody else happy and not staying true to yourself.

21. I wish I would have laughed more.

Make sure to laugh everyday. Learn to speak the language of “serious fun.” As it implies, get the serious stuff done…but make sure you have your share of fun and play, too.

22. I wish I would have quit some things faster.

Know when to quit things. Although it may seem counterintuitive, there are people, situations, and places where you are spending your time that aren’t serving you. Quit them.

23. I wish I would have defined my values earlier.

Decide what you stand for. If you don’t stand for much, you’ll fall for anything.

My first jobs, workouts, and girlfriends were because other people said they would be good for me. Make that choice for yourself and you won’t develop a weak set of knees when the time comes to stand up for yourself.

24. I wish I didn’t let other people’s expectations hold me back.

Eight words to remove from your vocabulary: “What will people say? What will people think?”

25. I wish I had gossiped less.

Build people up to their face and don’t talk to people behind their back. It only leads to trouble.

26. I wish I had trained around injury better.

Your body has incredible recuperative powers. Don’t let injuries or time off hold you back. And remember, even if you took time off, it’s never too late to start again toward fitness.

27. I wish I would have treated my body like my car.

In other words, don’t just pay attention to your body when there’s a problem. Also, make sure you are putting the right things in the gas tank. Just because it looks good on the outside doesn’t mean everything is good on the inside.

28. I wish I had “kept in touch” better.

Don’t let more than three months go by without staying in touch with the important people in your network.

29. I wish I had built my network even faster.

Surround yourself with people more fit, successful, and wealthy than you are. Just like the tide, you will rise or fall according to the influential bodies around you.

30. I wish I would have realized that the world is “service” oriented.

Serve others. You’ll learn as you get older that it’s not about what you get, but what you give back that really counts.

 

 

Hack Your Hormones: 5 Natural Shortcuts For More Sex, More Muscle, and More Power

Reblogged from Scrawny to Brawny here: http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/hack-your-hormones

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Learn how to safely and naturally manipulate your hormone levels (including testosterone) with 5 simple workout, nutrition, and lifestyle tips.

The Sex Education That Wasn’t

I have fleeting memories of my junior high “sex education” class: A well-meaning but clueless PE teacher, complicated chalkboard diagrams of various glands and body parts, and lots of penis jokes followed by hysterical laughter. (We were 13, what do you expect?)

Yeah, we were just a bunch of prepubescent boys about to enter a period in our lives where much of our existence would be governed by hormones. Too bad we had no idea what the heck was going on or what the teacher was talking about.

We’re older now, but most guys still don’t understand the chemicals flowing through their blood — or how they can naturally manipulate those hormones to become bigger and better men.

This article will give you a quick primer on the things you need to know — and how to put that knowledge into action immediately with our Top 5 Hormone-Boosting Tips.

What The Heck Is a Hormone?

Hormones are like tiny chemical messengers that transmit information from one part of the body to another. Most hormones are produced by glands located throughout the body and are collectively known as the “endocrine system.”

Once the gland produces their respective hormones, these hormones are secreted into the bloodstream where they travel to all parts of the body looking for particular cells.

Each cell has receptor sites (imagine a locked door) for specific hormones (imagine the matching key), which can open and enter the cell. Once inside, the hormone goes to work flipping on and off switches that govern pretty much every function in the body.

Hormones don’t last forever and must be made and released at precise times to maintain optimal balance within the body.

4 Hormones To Hack

So here’s where the fun comes in: you can easily and safely “hack” your endocrine system and strategically influence certain hormones and use them to your advantage to help you build more muscle, increase your sex drive, and generally feel more powerful.

The hormones we’ll focus on are testosterone, growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and insulin.

For easy and quick reading, the most important points are bolded. If you want to skip the science, just skim down and read the section, “Top 5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Hormones.”

Testosterone

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that has androgenic and anabolic effects in both men and women. It’s considered the daddy of all hormones and has many important functions like regulating libido, energy, bone health, immune function and muscular development.

Special cells in the testes convert cholesterol into testosterone when they get a signal from the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Testosterone is then secreted in a circadian pattern. Though no two guys have the same cyclical pattern, it’s safe to assume that for most guys, testosterone levels peak early in the morning and slowly tapers off as the day progresses.

Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1

The pituitary gland makes and secretes growth hormone (GH) in a pulsating manner, much like testosterone. However, unlike testosterone, GH levels peak at night with a big spike in the first couple of hours of sleep and smaller spikes every four hours or so.

Once GH enters the bloodstream it positively affects metabolic functions, glycogen production, protein synthesis, fat metabolism and structural elements such as bone and cartilage. Perhaps the coolest thing GH does is to stimulate the production of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 triggers a chain of events that ultimately make your muscles grow.

It appears that GH mostly impacts the fat burning process, while IGF-1 mostly impacts muscle growth. So GH and IGF-1 working together lead to the greatest results in looking better.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone secreted in low levels by the pancreas and will spike proportionately in response to increased blood sugar levels, usually following the ingestion of food and/or beverages. As the level of blood sugar subside so do insulin secretion levels.

Once insulin is in the blood it transports nutrients like glucose, amino acids and fatty acids into tissue cells. If these nutrients are shuttled into muscle cells, then the muscles will grow. Conversely, if these nutrients are shuttled into fat cells, then body fat increases.

The key is to get insulin to store more of the nutrients into the muscle cells and less into the fat cells by increasing insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells while decreasing insulin sensitivity in the fat cells. Doing this turns insulin into a powerful anabolic hormone.

Top 5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Hormones

Here are the top five strategies you can do today to hack your body and improve the levels of anabolic hormones flowing through your veins:

1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

To place the body into an anabolic (muscle-building) state, adequate sleep is essential. While you’re sleeping, protein metabolism occurs at a more proficient rate, mainly due to a big spike in GH release within the first hour or so of sleep. Then, smaller bursts of GH are secreted about every four hours. The more sleep you get, the more GH you produce.

On the other end, a lack of sleep contributes to an increase in cortisol production, a catabolic, muscle-damaging hormone, which will lower testosterone levels. Not good.

 

2. Do stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga every day.

The modern way of life that most of us have become accustomed to also creates a constant, high degree of daily stress. Being overly stressed will quickly increase cortisol levels, cause testosterone levels to plummet and decreases the secretion of GH. Doing a daily stress-reducing activity will allow you to manage daily stress and minimize any negative effects.

 

3. Perform regular, high-intensity exercise with short rest periods.

Compound, multi-joint exercises (think squats, lunges, pull-ups, and presses) at high-intensity with minimal rest between sets increases GH, IGF-1 and testosterone secretion. The release of this hormonal trifecta is proportionate to intensity. The more intense a workout, the more anabolic hormone is released.

The daily frequency and amplitude of these hormones will increase when this type of exercise is followed consistently. (That means you gotta make it to the gym and actually follow your program!) This will allow more anabolic hormones to pulsate through your blood more frequently throughout the day.

 

4. Drink a protein/carbohydrate drink within an hour after working out.

The post-workout drink is arguably the most important “meal” of the day for anyone looking to build muscle. High-quality, fast digesting protein consumption immediately after a workout allows for the proper “building blocks” to be in plentiful supply.

Adding some carbs into the mix will create an insulin spike that will shuttle all of those muscle-building nutrients directly into the muscle cells, jumpstarting the repair and regrowth process.

 

5. Eliminate or significantly reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs.

If you want to be super-anabolic, you need to stop or seriously reduce the amount of alcohol, caffeine and other drugs you take.

Alcohol interferes with protein synthesis, dramatically reduces testosterone levels, decreases GH secretion and lowers insulin sensitivity causing nutrients to be delivered into fat cells rather than muscle cells. Caffeine and other drugs will elevate cortisol levels, which drive down testosterone production as previously mentioned.

(It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some coffee or a beer a few times per week; it just means you need to be aware of the potential effects.)

Warning: 3 Things That NEGATIVELY Affect Your Hormones

Now that we’ve gone over 5 things you can do to naturally boost your hormones, let’s quickly talk about 3 things that can negatively affect your hormones.

Interestingly, the factors that decrease insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells and suppress testosterone, GH, IGF-1 levels are essentially the same.

Here are the top three things to avoid:

Stress

Overtraining, sporadic or poor sleep patterns, lack of quality nutrition, excess alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, drug use and environmental stressors are all forms of stress that will cause the body to limit testosterone, GH and IGF-1 production, decrease insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells and in turn increase stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine A.K.A. adrenaline.

Aging

All right, so you can’t really avoid this. But it’s good that you know this, too. GH and testosterone level drop significantly around age 30 and will continue to drop by as much as 10% every decade thereafter. This will decrease insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin sensitivity can escalate the aging process leading to a vicious downward spiral.

(Note: even though we’re getting older, hope is not lost. You can still boost your natural hormones significantly by following our 5 Tips above.)

Extra Body Fat

Extra body fat will cause insulin to shuttle more nutrients into fat cells. (Which you don’t want.) Also, extra body fat throws the optimal testosterone and estrogen ratio out of whack causing more testosterone to be converted into estrogen. Just another reason to stay relatively lean.

Your Homework: Follow The Top 5

Now that you have a basic knowledge of the hormones that make you a man, try following our top 5 tips. Don’t worry about trying to follow them all at once, however. That’s how plans fail.

Instead, pick just one strategy from below — the one that sounds the easiest to you — and practice it for two weeks without missing a day.

Give it a few days and you may just feel like a brand new man.

  • Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every      night.
  • Do a stress-reducing activity like      meditation or yoga every day.
  • Perform regular, high-intensity exercise      with short rest periods.
  • Drink a protein/carbohydrate drink      within an hour after working out.
  • Eliminate or significantly reduce your      intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs.

 

About the Author: Calvin Buhler is a Scrawny to Brawny Coach. You can find him on Facebook.  

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Six Rules for Success

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Six Rules for Success:

1) Trust Yourself

2) Break The Rules

3) Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

4) Don’t Listen to the Naysayers

5) Work Your Butt Off

6) Give Something Back

 

 

The Start of the Journey

At the gym where I’ve been working out, I’ve been paired up with a personal trainer to help me take my fitness to the next level – I was convinced by the petite and cute New Client Onboarding Trainer, Jessica, that I can become the Greek Adonis I’ve always wanted to be as long as I eat properly and train “balls out” (her words not mine). I think she meant the latter figuratively instead of literally. On my first day with the trainer I was expecting an affable professional who is more concerned with what people think of him/her than getting actual results, much like the pedestrian lot at The Athletic Club, but no, this was not meant to be. The first words out of his mouth were: you are going to hate me. And after 2 weeks I can honestly say I do hate him. The previous weekend, after two training sessions, I couldn’t raise my arms over my head. Last week, after training legs, I couldn’t get my hands close enough to my feet to tie my shoelaces (Luckily, a female classmate took pity and tied them for me). Over the weekend I couldn’t completely straighten my arms nor bend them enough to scratch my chin, which was the result of our training session on Friday. Life is good. Life will be even better after I parade around Jessica’s office in crotchless workout gear – see, I’ll tell her, I WAS listening to you and not staring at your boobs. 

Krav Maga. In the last 2 weeks I’ve been hit in the crotch 3 times, had an open palm to the face, been scratched so deeply on my right arm I’m sure I’ll lose some of the tattoo at some point and as of Saturday I’m sporting two red lesions down the right side of my neck. I bought a cup and a mouth guard yesterday and am feeling much smarter for it. I’m loving every second of it.