How to Get HOOGE!

By far the question that I get asked the most by our male athletes is “how do I get bigger”.  I give them the simplest answer they could ever want yet they still for some reason don’t like what I tell them. My answer is usually along the lines of “eat food… a lot of it, all day…“ The resounding follow up from them goes something like “but I don’t want to get fat”.  At this point, in my mind, I want to just go kick down a door (figuratively speaking of course). [vsw id="q3SFXQfE4kk&" source="youtube" width="425" height="344" autoplay="no"]

I blame society.  For the last 20 years we have been told by media organizations that if we eat food we will get fat and then we are made to idolize people that look like sticks, RIDICULOUS!  Sorry, I’m digressing from the point… What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, gaining weight.

Fellas, the only way to gain muscle mass is to eat A LOT of REAL FOOD and have a sound strength and conditioning program.  Please, I beg you to get rid of the notion that you will get fat because honestly, you won’t.  The guys I get the gaining weight question from are usually 5’6”, 130-140lbs or 6’0” 165-175lbs; the last thing you should ever worry about is getting fat.  I can’t really blame you for thinking this because I was the same way when I was younger.  It wasn’t until college that I started to educate myself on the issue and ignored my ridiculous thoughts about getting fat.  I went from 5’8” 150lbs to around 6 months later weighing in at 177lbs (after trying to gain a little more muscle recently, I weigh in around 187lbs currently).  All that said I’m going to give you a list of some of the foods I ate frequently to help me reach my goals (the foods are in no specific order).

I did not measure out my food when trying to gain weight.  I don’t feel this is necessary because it ends up getting in the way and becomes a huge hassle which leads to giving up.

- 6 eggs (whole eggs, not egg whites) with a handful of cheddar cheese and a WHOLE LOT of vegetables.  Try and find whatever you can, mine consists of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green and red peppers.  I ate this for breakfast and sometimes dinner.  I scrambled it all up with some olive oil.  This was a great way to get in a lot of good nutrients consisting of fats, carbohydrates, and protein.

- Natural peanut butter and jelly on Arnold’s Double Fiber wheat bread and a glass of whole milk.  This was one of my favorites which is why I ate it twice a day; one of those times being after my training session in which case I would substitute a glass of whole milk with chocolate milk/one scoop vanilla why protein. I slabbed on as much peanut butter as I could. Be sure to get natural peanut butter, don’t eat that processed stuff.  If it claims to be natural but lists palm oil as an ingredient then don’t buy it; palm oil acts as a trans-fat.

- Burrito bowl from Chipotle with rice, fajitas, black beans, chicken, pico de gallo, cheese, and guacamole.  This was usually a once a week thing because of cost.  This was a great way to get in a lot of calories on a day where I was slacking or short on time.

- Stir fry diced chicken breast with as many vegetables as you can cram in.  It should consist of tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and baby spinach with olive oil and teriyaki sauce.  I usually got 3 to 4 pounds of chicken breast filets and made it all on Sunday so I could have it already prepared for the week. Again, gettin' a lot of calories while satisfying vegetable intake.  I know what you are thinking and yes you have to eat spinach, because it’s awesome and if you want to be strong like Popeye you have to eat like Popeye.

- I loved drinking smoothies because it was an awesome way to get in a boat load of good calories. The fact that it was liquid allowed it to not sit very long which allowed me to eat again quicker.  I had my own recipe but Stevo’s is far superior so I’ll give you that one.  Frozen berries, whole milk, Kefir, brazil nuts, and one scoop vanilla whey protein.  If the blender isn't full by the end… Just add more.

- West Virginia Goulash with a side of 4% milk fat cottage cheese mixed with strawberry jelly.  This is a meal that my dad (from Beaver, West Virginia) has cooked for my family forever.  It’s nothing special really, just 90/10 ground beef cooked in a pan with LITERALLY whatever vegetables you can find.  My dad uses potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn, green beans, green peppers, and tomatoes.  As for the cottage cheese, I do like it by itself but after a while the taste takes its toll on you so I added the flare of strawberry jelly. Again, just like the chicken stir fry I would make this at the beginning of the week. If you don’t like this meal then we just can’t be friends.

A Few Things to Note…

- Every week I would rotate between the chicken stir fry and the West Virginia Goulash, a big bowl of either would be my lunch or dinner.  The peanut butter and jelly, cottage cheese with strawberry jelly, the scrambled egg dish and the smoothie would be something I ate every day, every week.  With all this I would end up eating around 5-6 times a day and drinking around 3 liters to 1 gallon of water a day.

- At this time the only supplement I took was cod liver oil because I needed extra Vitamin D due to lack on sun exposure and protein powder.  If you are trying to put on mass for the first time I highly discourage you from taking other supplements such as NO2 products and creatine products.  The reason being is not because they are bad for you (because they are NOT bad for you) it’s more so because they end up being a crutch, especially for teens.  People and again especially teens tend to think supplements are a “magic pill” and make them a staple of their diet rather than what they are; a “supplement” to your diet.  Whey protein is fine; just keep it to one scoop after your training session along with the other post workout food I listed and one scoop for your smoothie.

- If you’re reading this and saying things like “oh man, that’s unhealthy to eat that many eggs”, “I’m going to get fat if I do that”, “his cholesterol and blood pressure must be through the roof!” then I'm sorry to say, you are sorely mistaken.  If you truly believe those things then you probably don’t exercise (lift heavy things and condition) enough, you pay too much attention to bad sources of information, and you just aren’t ready to take on the challenge.  All of the products I ate were natural and either not processed or very minimally processed.  There is nothing “unhealthy” about drinking whole milk, it’s a great source of good fats and is much less processed than skim milk.  Egg yolks are fine, actually its the best part of the egg.  And, I can assure you that my cholesterol and my blood pressure are better than average.

Stop letting society dictate your life.

Growth Hormone Response to Resistance Training

Lots of research has been conducted on how to elicit the greatest growth hormone (GH) response in the body. There are actually several GH isoforms, but by far, the most commonly studied is the 22-kD molecule that consists of 191 amino acids. If you’re attempting to get some more size on your frame, then you should be concerned about your body’s GH response to your lifts.

Rules of Thumb:

  1. GH is maximized via concentric muscle action, specifically.
  2. Men and women have similar GH responses to resistance exercise. However, women naturally have more GH at rest than men do.
  3. The idea the GH response is limited in “older” individuals is a fallacy. GH response is primarily linked to EFFORT, not age.
  4. Planning is crucial. If you are “winging-it” in the gym, you’re probably wasting your time - in terms of muscle growth. Everything is important: sets, reps, intensity, total volume, rest time, exercise selection. So, very difficult (some may say “insane”) set/rep schemes are in order. Ex. 10x10 @ 70% with 2-min rest or 6x15 @ 60% with 3-min rest.

Cocktail trivia you can breakout for your meat-head minded friends: growth hormone is secreted from the anterior pituitary, which receives its “orders” from a neural response initiated by higher brain centers – like the motor cortex – as they react to certain muscle actions.

One last tip: A Cup-O-Strength may be required to make it through 6x15 squats… hey, can’t hurt, right?