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Old 03-07-2010, 06:41 PM   #1
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Default Madcow2 On Diet and Training


Okay, I don't really care to delve deeply into diet issues generally. I find it pretty basic and uninteresting, plus - there's enough books and forums out there that you can easily get up to speed on the micro . I'm going to deal with one topic - caloric excess (the most important non-training topic for those looking to add muscle) and then provide a few quotes.

First, a lot of BBers claim that diet is 95% of everything - that's some nice bull to spew when a guy is running the test levels of 20 men, has no performance criteria whatsoever to be judged by, and even a horrible training stimulus will still get him results. The bottom line is that for an experienced natural or someone who isn't living on large dosages of drugs, as long as your diet is "reasonable" you will get bigger and stronger only if the training is in line.

This is common sense blocking and tacking stuff. Eat a good balanced diet, get enough Protein, vitamins, whatever, drink lots of water, and make sure you supply yourself with enough calories to grow. Combine that with a good training program and voila - you will get bigger and stronger.

I tell you that the main issue for most non-novice lifters is the training program. They don't know how to get stronger and increase their capacities in the core lifts after they crest the novice stage where they can't just go in and add weight each week. Stuff like the 3 day split, training bodyparts 1x per week, thinking that a routine is a list of exercises you will do and that it is enough to go in the gym and work hard - all this s people. Shattering these bull BBing myths and near total reliance on anabolics and illustrating proper periodization and dual factor style programs was the reason I put the Bill Starr 5x5 program on this site.

Of course there is one problem. The assumption of a "reasonable" diet and the key factor here is caloric excess. The key factor is not 6 meals a day, nor is it X grams of Protein, nor is it weighing one's food and counting every last s of it while extracting yolks from egg whites like a baby salamander. It is caloric excess. If you don't have it, you can't grow. Contrary to por BBing mythos, it need not even be a clean diet. You can eat quite a bit of garbage and get big and strong (even staying reasonably lean for a lot of people) as long as there is caloric excess. If you choose to eat clean, more power to you but make sure in your extra effort that you get caloric excess or you won't be adding muscle.

Now some people start with a pretty big margin of bodyfat (approaching 20% or more), these people already have significant caloric excess built into their base diet. Most of them find that they can hold their calories constant and for a while they will add muscle and the maintenance of that muscle will use up the excess calories that are currently going toward maintaining their excess fat. This won't last forever but it will likely get them down to the mid to low teens without any issues. Everybody with lower bodyfat needs to add excess to their base diet.

Now this sounds like common sense but here is the kicker. There are a lot of people who really put a lot of effort into their diet and maintain fairly lean physiques. They carefully calculate and maintain a constant diet and precise level of caloric excess - nothing wrong with that. The only problem is that their calculations might not fully reflect their activity level or the requirements of their own individual body.

Keep in mind that they are already fairly lean so there is obviously little to no caloric excess in their base diets. Also understand that the lower your BF is, the less willing your body is to add muscle - very logically, muscle is calorically expensive and increases risk of death from famine, if fat stores are already low, it is very hard to convince the body to add muscle (the people with this genetic makeup died millions of years ago). This is also why people loose muscle when cutting (this is all based on natural lifters, steroids enhance certain abilities but don't erase restrictions completely).

So given that some of these people are already lean (no caloric excess) and run their diets based at the margin of a calculation, these people can go through a good training program, get strong as hell raising their capacities in all the lifts and not gain any weight. How is this possible? Very simple, no caloric excess. If you eat more than you need you will gain weight. If you are a couch potato, that weight might be all fat. A good training program will ensure that a large portion is muscle. Either way, if caloric excess is present - one will not be the same weight and body composition by the very definition of caloric excess.

This may sound like common sense but it snafu's tons of people, particularly BBers because many of them like to maintain lower levels of BF and spend a lot of time on their diet and eat right at the margin of a somewhat arbitrary calculation that works on the average but in reality needs to be tailored to their own requirements. In addition, many will make their diet squeaky clean and not realize that their volume of consumption has to increase drastically to get the same number of total calories - so they wind up putting themselves in caloric maintenance or worse, deficit.

In addition, as people gain muscle their base requirement increases and thus their diet must be adjusted to maintain the same caloric excess margin. I know it sounds easy but a lot of people eat the same diet at 195 as they did when they were working their way up from 180. They sit their with this nice lean body and wonder why they can't ever seem to break the 200 barrier because their training is good and they eat the same good healthy diet that got them all the way to 195.

Another good thing to remember is that you don't eat too much one day and wake up to find that you went from 8% to 20% BF overnight. A lot of people have a good feel for their base diet and just consume more when they want to gain. If they start getting too fat too quickly, they cut back appropriately. For the vast majority of people, they can likely monitor this without every doing heavy micromanagement while gaining muscle. If your goal is cutting and getting down much below 10%, well that takes work but adding muscle is pretty easy without micromanagement. But, if one wishes to quantify their diets and spend time on this then go right ahead, I just don't like to see people with pretty mundane and attainable goals think that this it's absolutely necessary if they want to add even an ounce of muscle.

I'm not ping on the desire to eat clean wholesome foods but it is not necessary for the purpose of adding muscle whereas caloric excess is. Eating clean is a separate goal from adding muscle, it's a lifestyle goal and takes work - kudos to those that do it because it makes the whole thing a bit harder and requires more planning. I'm not saying to eat total garbage but a reasonable diet is fine and to be honest more than a few people have found it necessary to add in more calorically dense foods (i.e. fried chicken etc...) when bulking simply because they can't consume the volume and get all the calories any other way (I'm not talking about your standard 150lbs kid here obviously).

Bottom lines:

1) Caloric excess is required
2) Your body will change if excess is present - fat/muscle/body composition
3) If over the period the body did not change - caloric excess was not present
4) If you add muscle, your base requirement will change and you will need to eat more to maintain excess

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