Monday, November 27, 2006

How to Get Jacked

Today I'm reposting an interview I did for Craig Ballantyne of last week.

I hope you enjoy it.

We are going to switch gears today and talk about building muscle, and lots of it. After all, yesterday gave you the calories, right? Today we might as well give you the training...

Today I'm giving you a mini-interview with the "strength coach to strength coaches", Jason Ferruggia. When he talks, I listen. So does Mike Boyle, as does Alwyn Cosgrove.

Jason has great muscle-building advice from years running his own gym, so let's get to it.

CB: What rep ranges - you say no high reps - what does that mean? Nothing above 10, 15, 20?

JF:For the most part, skinny guys will be wasting their time if they use high reps and light weights.I usually like to see most of the reps be in the ranges of 6-12 when training for size. Now if it's a lower body exercise such as a squat, step up or Romanian deadlift, you can get away and maybe even get better results with slightly higher reps. For the lower body you could actually go as high as twenty reps and still make good progress. On total body exercises such as a dumbbell swing, you could also get good results with reps in the 12-20 range.Here's a secret about getting good results with higher rep training. Most of the time I don't recommend killing yourself and going to death set failure on every set. But if you are using higher reps, the weights are lighter already. If you are doing multiple sets of high reps the cumulative fatigue starts to mount and the weights can start to get really light.For this reason, when you do sets above 12 reps they probably should be all out death sets to failure, otherwise there is just not enough stimulus to induce a hypertrophy response. But for the most part, if you really want to get jacked, the majority of your training should be in the 6-12 range.

CB: What do you think aboot pigging out while getting big? Is that alright or should people be very strict with their muscle-building nutrition as well?

JF:This really depends on your genetics and bodyfat levels. If you can stay lean no matter what you eat then go for it. If you are really trying to add a lot of size you definitely have to jack up your calories. I believe bulking cycles should last 12-16 weeks max.After this you need to go into a maintenance or diet phase and do a completely different kind of training. Many people will do better with shorter cycles. This is an individual thing. But during this time you do have to pig out. This doesn't mean throwing caution to the wind and trying to induce a heart attack in that time frame by eating fast food and ice cream all day. You can eat some junk food if you have a very fast metabolism but the majority of your food choices should be clean.The best choices here are beef, chicken, fish and eggs for protein and rice, potatoes, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, whole grain bread and fruits and vegetables for carbs. Be sure to include some healthy fats as well like nuts, avocadoes, and oils.If you have trouble staying lean you will probably want to limit your carb intake to the morning and pre and post workout period and avoid mixing large amounts of fats and carbs.On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have trouble eating enough, a trick I like to use is to focus on eating high glycemic carbs like white rice. The reasoning behind this is that they digest rapidly and leave you feeling hungry again very shortly after eating them. This is why you are hungry an hour after eating Chinese food.

CB: You've been experimenting in your strength training lab for years - what was your most surprising finding - what "universal truth" doesn't really hold up in the real world?

JF: There are so many. You definitely need way less training than most people think. Even if you are genetically superior and have the time and ambition, I really don't see much benefit to training more than three days per week. If you can handle it, the results are not really that much better, if at all.Some rules like the supposed inverse relationship between sets and reps is completely false. This rule, which 90% of the industry seems to live by, states that the less reps you do, the more sets you do and the more reps you do the less sets you do.This is okay with beginners but what about some one who can bench press 400 pounds? If they are doing sets of three they are supposed to do between six and ten sets supposedly. Good luck with that. Aint happening. With a strong guy this rule is actually completely backward.

Some experts will tell you that you should only do compound movements and this will take care of everything. For example, they say you should only do presses and rows and chins and never pushdowns or curls.I agree with that to an extent but after you have built up a decent amount of mass on the basics you could actually benefit from a very small volume of some of these isolation exercises.Your strongest muscles will take over when doing a row or press and often times, for the more advanced lifter, the smaller muscles like biceps, don't receive an adequate growth stimulus. For this reason, if you really wanted to get your arms to grow (and are way beyond the beginner stage) you should a few sets of direct arm work.

The old myth that a muscle takes 72 hours to recover is also completely incorrect. If you wanted to you could probably train full body seven days a week. The guys in the military do it. It's just all about finding the optimal balance between volume, intensity and frequency.I mentioned training to failure earlier but this is something that most people are still confused about.Here are the simple rules about going to failure that hold true every time: If you are training strictly for size or fat loss, you can go to failure on every set. I don't mean nervous breakdown, death set failure but you can go until you can't get another rep.If your main priority is getting stronger, you can not go to failure. It's that simple. If you do choose to go to failure when training for strength, you need to change your workouts much more frequently because you will not be able to progress week to week.There are a ton of other ones but those are the first that came to mind right now. Hopefully that gives people a few new ideas and things to think about.

CB: Thanks J. I personally am using a program that was designed with Jay's help. I suggest you give his programs a try as well.Jason has just released his hardcopy book, "How to Get Jacked". You can order a copy HERE. Again, How to Get Jacked is a hardcopy book, so you'll get it in the mail.

CB: P.S. Jason helped me design my workouts...That you can read about in my blog at