For the past month I've been working out regularly under the tutelage of Dick Talens, the founder of Fitocracy, and for the first time ever I'm making actual gains. Seven pounds gained so far, and substantial increases in the weights I can lift.
When we first started going back and forth about the training, I said something to the effect of, "I have the irrational idea that I can't possibly gain weight no matter what I do." I gave Crossfit a try for a while, and probably gained around 3-5 pounds within a year and tried Tim's Occam's Protocol with no real success. Back when I had a house I put a bench in my server room and even rigged up a lat pulldown system by putting pulleys in the ceilng. No gains there, either.
The reason I decided to get training from Dick was because I figured I could put to rest once and for all the question of whether or not I'm able to build muscle. I wanted to know what was possible, how much effort it required, and how much time it would take. As I rested in between sets today in the gym, I kept thinking about how I never thought I could gain weight, just because "I'm not that kind of person". I thought about other times I've felt that way and been wrong, and the different patterns these thoughts fall into.
There is No Way
I was a nerd growing up. I still am, too. That meant that around the time that many of my peers were learning how to talk to girls, I was learning how to talk to computers. I got very lucky and was essentially picked up by a great girl in high school, but my attitude towards dating was that I was mediocre at it and would continue to be. I didn't know how to talk to girls, didn't know how to flirt with them, and had no idea that this was even a learnable skill.
Last year I went out to Las Vegas to sit it on a program Mystery was running. We went out the first night and my friend and I pretty quickly made friends with a group of four girls, who we had running around with us for the rest of the night. They asked why we were there and we told them.
"You guys must be teaching, then? You obviously would have no problem with girls."
I used to believe that I wasn't the type of person who could be good at flirting. Then I was fortunate enough to discover that there was a way to get better. I didn't say a single "line" to those girls in Vegas-- I had just become someone who was good at these sorts of things.
If you find yourself thinking that you can't do X because you're not Y, and there's no way to learn Y, make sure that's actually true. In certain cases like becoming a pro athlete after a certain age, it probably is true. In most other fields, it's probably not true. There's very often a way.
It's Not Me
I remember the first time I rode on a motorcycle. My extremely cool uncle had a Ducati, and he somehow convinced my parents to let me ride on the back. In my mind is a freeze frame of the first turn we took-- I couldn't believe how far we were leaned over.
When he turned eighteen or so, my brother bought a motorcycle. He was that type of guy. He bought a sports bike, which suited him, and within a year he was showing us videos of him doing wheelies at one hundred miles an hour on the highway. This all made a lot of sense-- no one was surprised that he got a motorcycle.
I never even thought about getting a motorcycle. I wasn't that type of guy. I bought things like electric skateboards and mopeds. Even when I had a moped, it seemed so far away from a motorcycle that I never thought about upgrading. I took motorycle class only because riding a scooter technicaly required a motorcycle license. I remember during the round of introductions on the first day, I told everyone that I had no intention of riding a motorcycle-- I had a 75cc scooter.
Then I rode for the first time during class and I realized that the "type of person" that I was was completely irrelevant. I didn't need some genes or background to ride a motorcyle-- just sitting on it and rolling across the parking lot was enough to make me fall in love.
It's a dangerous trap to categorize yourself, even if it's a weird unique category you make up yourself. You never give yourself more options by doing that-- you only limit them.
It Won't Work for Me
Working out was an interesting one. I had a friend named Austin who had a similarly scrawny build, with muscle being equally absent. Over the course of year or two, he became ripped. I don't know exactly what he did, but my recollection is that he did a lot of pullups, some pushups, and ate some more food. Another friend of mine, Jonah, lost tons of weight and gained tons of muscle.
It wasn't that I didn't believe that it was possible to gain muscle-- I just believed that it wasn't possible for me. Clearly this wasn't a very well thought out stance, but even if I would deny it logically, it's what my subconscious thought.
What works for one person works for another, at least in general terms. Maybe required protein intake will vary by person, but a workout program with caloric overload, progressive weight overload, and some amount of monitoring and adjustment will pretty much work for anyone.
Want to lose weight instead? Upgrade the quality of your calories and eat fewer of them.
When there's something with a proven record of working for pretty much everyone, your success will come down to how closely you adhere to a protocol and how much effort you put into it. If a known method for getting a goal doesn't work for you, chances are the problem is within, and some changes to yourself will set you on the right track.
Photo is my motorcycle. I never thought that I was the type of person who could work on vehicles, but I rebuilt a few moped engines and chopped the tail off my bike with a saw, amongst other things.
I'll be releasing another 50 SETT invites pretty soon. If you want one and you're not on the list, go to http://sett.com
I never understood I could have a sense of style, I always thought gyms were for morons (how could repeating motions be entertaining?!)
I had a formula I was testing and it required a lot of time, but I didn't notice a big difference in myself after loosing 60lb's
Not pictured is me down to 160lb's of pure skinny fat. The formula I knew was to do as much cardio as I could and keep increasing it.
I didn't get it. How could I of gone from (220lb is a generous estimate) to 160lb and still not be happy with how I looked?
That's when I got into lifting. I copied down a workout off the internet, looked up videos on youtube on how to do each component, and went back and kept going at it.
My lifts were abysmal! Any muscle I did have I threw away on starvation cardio, but time went on, I made sure to add 5% to every lift every week, and after some time the visual results were rolling in.
The allure of lifting started to become clear... you get high doing it! The sort of transcendental mind states people talk about from yoga 10 fold. To lift properly you must control your breathing and focus in on the sensation inside of your muscles. It's easy to lift with the wrong muscle or not isolate a targeted muscle correctly if you can't (more difficult than it sounds). The first step to lifting more than you can, an impossible feat, is to do it! Feel the lactic acid burning you and reprogram that as a good sensation. Learn to get, as Arnold says is paramount to success, those last 2 reps you "can't do." Once you've figured out the best workout plan, throw it away and do a new one. You have to. Also not pictured is me over 180lb and just as lean as in that final photo.
I was Moses and my tablets were The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.
This was the start of my whole life becoming made over. I stopped being a complete drunk, I quit smoking, I started dealing with the past and the people in my life. Now I pay more in taxes than my old gross income but more importantly, I can sleep at night and wake up in the morning.
As Tynan's experience, I'm a nerd and thusly, many of my friends are nerds, too. Many of them saw my results and either pushed me away or wanted in on it. I read up through National Associations of Sports Medicine training text books and started having new comers shadow my workouts.
From day 1 it was clear who would make it and he wouldn't. When I'd teach someone how to do heavy squats if they were wondering when their abs were going to start popping, they had already failed. The successful people wondered how many days they had to wait to do more, because they loved them!
Our media has become obsessive about putting out fast short term losses as the way to do it. Don't worry about the scale, it's unrelated to anything. Measure your waist (loses) and your chest (gains) if you really want a number, but I never bothered.
Magazines and shows sell people on "tricks," and commercials sell people on "products." It's difficult to market real methods because they come in big thick tombs like the book mentioned above and involve years of dedication. It comes from inside, not from making yet another purchase.
I did all of the above while broke. Me in the first picture and me in the last picture wore the same dirty broken pair of chuck's to the gym every day. Don't make step 1 a new $120 pair of sneakers (tho little did I realize chuck's being a flat bottom shoe are ideal for lifting).
Worry about your friends. "Why wont you drink with us any more, man? We're just going out for dinner and drinks." They'll fuck up your hydration levels and try and keep you in the rut you're comfortable and spent years in.
Eat more and eat cleaner. Avoid things which make health claims or Verb Bomb you. Organic All Wheat Enriched Crackers! Ignore the marketing and read that as "crackers" and proceed to not eat them... because they're crackers. Get tons of leafy greens. Spinach, kale, arugula -- put them in anything and everything, you need the iron and other accessible forms of micro-nutrients.
I tried to briefly cover all of the major pillars of it without writing a novel. If you think the mind is first and the body is secondary, that they're not at least on equal footing or one in the same, then you're half a person and get half the results.
Hey, amazing job on your transformation. Besides the aesthetic benefits, you've probably added years to your life expectancy. Whenever someone tells me they can't lose weight, I'm going to show them this.
Great tips, and I love the observation that everyone either joins in or dismisses it. I've found that to be true of many changes.
I am glad to see you are making solid gains! It takes a lot of eating for some people to put on weight, and we are both in that boat. I have been eating 3500-4000 calories/day for the past 3 months and finally have put on 6-7 pounds, accompanied by improved strength in the gym across my main lifts (bench press, squats, deadlifts, rows).
Now that you have your diet and training in line I recommend looking into supplementing with creatine. It is dirt cheap and contrary to popular belief, a compound that your body naturally synthesizes, albeit in small quantities. Read this post for a better idea of what exactly it does.
I'm waiting to see those muscles!!
If Dick Talens doesn't work, make sure to check in with me next, I'll guarantee some muscle growth...
When I wrote this I thought to myself that there was a 100% chance of a CaptainPower comment. I'll probably post a picture right before I leave the country at the end of March.
Read your post about flying-was reminded about flying with a bush pilot over the kalahari desert in africa where if you crash land you either die from heat or wild animals. bush pilots can be a different breed and this one thought it would be great fun to give me a lesson which started out with a stall at which point engine fluid began to leak over the windscreen. the two passengers in back turned white. well obviously we survived and as time passed we came to see it as an adventure.
Labeling-another term for your discussion-as you pointed out-can be limiting. How do we avoid being put into categories?
What foods do you eat to get enough calories to make gains?
I exercise 3-4 times per week, strength training and playing tennis and one of my problems is finding a good, healthy source of proteins. Did you just increase the portions of your regular diet, or have you added some other things, like fish (you mentioned sardines in your posts), eggs or dairy products?
My protein comes from sardines, tuna, steak, and whey protein. The hard part for me was adding carbs-- I tried to eat complex carbs but the bulk of the food was making me sick. So now on workout days I eat two big unhealthy "natural" cookies. This isn't ideal, but I'm willing to do it for a period of time. Of course, the effects of higher glycemic foods aren't so bad when the body is actively using the sugar.
High GI foods can definitely be beneficial within an hour after working out, especially when combined with protein to refill muscle glycogen. I try to eat mostly paleo, but after a hard training session sometimes I'll hit up white rice as a source of safe starchy carbs.
I think the issue most average Americans have with these kinds of starchy high-GI carbs is that their muscle glycogen is already full (because the average American doesn't exercise enough), but they eat it anyways spiking their insulin levels; it's like their gas tank is already full, and they keep trying to pour gas in the tank...but it overflows and has nowhere else to land except as fat deposits on their belly, hips, thighs, or butt.
For the most part - increase portions of your current diet. Also using calorically dense foods like whole milk, olive oil, and peanut butter go a long way to help pack those extra calories in. Not to spam, but i recently wrote an article that speaks directly to this point (about how I manipulate my diet to lose or gain weight). Check it out if you like.
The only problem is that almost all of your gaining foods are quite unhealthy. I don't eat sugar and try to limit my consumption of refined grains.
What foods should someone like me choose for gaining muscle?
None of the foods I listed above - olive oil, peanut butter, and whole milk - violate your choice to limit sugars and refined grains. But in the end it is really about total calories. To gain muscle you need to lift weights and eat more calories than you burn (and therefore gain weight, and with it muscle). Any way that you choose to fill these calories up is your personal choice. The actual make-up of the foods has very little impact on body composition.
Now, I understand that other considerations play a role in your diet. Maybe your energy levels suffer or your stomach becomes irritated after consuming sugars and refined grains. So eat whatever foods you want to, just make sure you eat enough to put on a little weight.
It's insane how many ridiculous excuses your mind can come up with to stop you from progress.
Most of these excuses are completely irrational, of course. Anyone can gain muscle if they really want to. Some might get results faster than others, but exercise works the same way for any person. Nobody is that unique.
I know that the same is true for making money, dating, or any other area I want to focus on. But that's not enough to stop my mind from coming up with silly and irrational excuses. It seems like my subconscious is purposefully trying to hold me back to avoid anything that could result in a change or that might be out of my comfort zone. And that's a dangerous thing.
It might not be possible to eliminate the excuse-making altogether, but we can at least learn to recognize it and make sure our decisions are not based on such nonsense.
This is a continuation of the story, How I Became a Famous Pickup Artist Part 1. If you haven't read that already, you should do so before reading this article.
Papa was notorious for being in contact with everyone in the pickup scene. I couldn't blame him, either - he was the business side of "Real Social Dynamics", a company that taught seminars and workshops to aspiring players. Not surprisingly, he was the only person at the seminar that I knew.
In order to extract every last precious second out of my experience, I had gotten on the earliest flight to Chicago that I could book. I called Papa when I arrived at the hotel at 10am. I could hardly make out his voice. He'd been out in the clubs until very late and was still sleeping.
“When they brought me in to identify the body, I was unsure what they were expecting of me. The body was badly burned, almost to a cinder. The only thing that gave it away was the necklace around her neck. The intermittent stones, the malformed gold draped around her neck...it was her, I was sure of it. I had seen it around her neck when I kissed her goodnight. I had first seen it around three months before when I gave it to her as a anniversary gift. When asked if I could think of who would want to hurt her, I had to admit I didn't know anyone who would want to. But I knew someone who was willing to start a fire.
They picked him up soon after that. His hands were badly burned, but he had not gone to seek medical treatment. Said that he barely felt it at all. I knew his history, an it was only for that reason that I believed him. He had lost sensation in his hands years earlier, when his family had been killed in a fire. Back then, I had taken up his care during and after his stay in the hospital. I was at the trial when he was accused of arson.
A new therapist was assigned to the boy. He was brought in to try and substantiate that the boy was insane at the time of the act. His testimony was loose, but it drove the point home. When asked later if I had anything I wished to say, I suggested that instead of prison, the boy be kept in a institution. It wasn't about my desire to see him receive treatment. I knew that if he was sent to prison there would be a chance at an appeal. If they were convinced that he had a long standing, mental ailment, he would be kept under observation for the rest of their life. Treating him as a criminal was foolish. The truth was he was insane.
His lawyer informed me after the trial that I was going to be a character witness...that I was the one most qualified to speak on the boys inclinations. I thought about the years I had spent talking with the boy, about his family and his childhood. And I thought about the years I had spent with my wife, about the day when we first met, and the condition of her body when I was asked to identify her.
I had to bury what was left of my wife in a casket, though at that point they might as well had just gone all the way and cremated her.