I know this doc seems long, but you asked. I’ve summarized about 2 years worth of hard-core, scientifically supported research into 13 valuable pages. So like, damn, take the time to read this shit if you’re so inclined. As far as I know, this info is pretty damn solid.
Also, I curse like a sailor so like, fuck you.
I learned A LOT in the past 2 years. There is SO much that goes into bodybuilding that I couldn’t even write about it all if I tried. The accumulation of legitimate knowledge will be your best tool in reaching whatever fitness goal you may have. Everyone’s body is different, so to claim there is “one way” would be arrogant and absurd. You gotta find out what works for YOU, which can only be obtained through a calculated approach of trial and error. The most important thing in your journey will be learning how to do your own research and being able to recognize “bro-science” from research supported claims. I’m gonna do my best to lay out some very basic and fundamental rules of bodybuilding that will help you blow past the early time wasting stages of “idk what the fuck im doing, lets just lift shit and eat big” that I had to endure during my first year or so of fucking around in the gym.
With that being said, let’s get into it.
1: Evaluate your goals
While there are many approaches you can take to lifting weights, there are 3 main types of goals when it comes to weight training: Strength, Hypertrophy, and Athleticism.
Strength: Getting your numbers up/being able to lift the heaviest shit possible. If you want to hit 2 plates on the bench and turn heads, your approach to lifting will be much different than if you just wanted to look good with your shirt off. This means that you don’t care too much about body composition, are ok with being T H I C C, and focus mainly on compound lifts. This is the general route that beginners take when first starting out in the gym. You’ll be that crazy mother fucker with 2 blender bottles and a gallon jug, who wears his thick ass leather lifting belt over his drenched hoodie that’s squatting like 4 plates in the corner of the gym. Beast. You’ll be training with high sets, low reps, with heavy fuckin weights yadda yadda google: training for strength.
Hypertrophy: Looking like a shredded fucking magazine model. You don’t care how much you bench, squat, or deadlift, you just wanna look hot as fuck when you rip that shirt off. A true fucking bro. To achieve this will take an incredible amount of discipline and sacrifice. We’re talking weighing your food on a scale, tracking calories and macros, and doing copious amounts of cardio over an extended period of time. This shit’s not easy, but if you set your mind to it, you can look like fuckin Captain America fresh out the chamber type shit. You’ll be training with moderate sets, high reps, lower weight yadda yadda google: training for hypertrophy.
Athleticism: Don’t know too much about this, its a good mix between strength and hypertrophy training. Focuses mainly on explosive movements, jumps, and calisthenics. Flexibility, speed, and strength are the name of the game but unfortunately you’re gonna have to do your own research on this one. Student athlete, crossfit, box jumping type shit.
2: Evaluate your body composition/strength
There are 3 main body types we’re gonna look at to determine how you should start.
FAT: You’re overweight, have a lot of fat in your arms, legs, stomach and back. You’re probably pretty strong just by the nature of your body type, but are definitely looking to lose weight. Focus on dieting, and lifting moderately heavy weights to save your already heavily taxed joints.
TWIG: You’re probably pretty shredded, have a crazy fast metabolism, and find it hard to put on weight. You’re probably also pretty weak. You should focus on heavy bulking, increasing your weight, and lifting very heavy weights to increase your strength.
SKINNY-FAT: Your have no fat in your arms or legs, but have man boobs and a belly. This is where I started. I was weak AND fat. That’s some shit huh? What you NEED to do is lean bulk, focusing on strength gains. You’ll wear your fat better and look fuller in general. If you cut to try to lose weight first you’ll be on some emaciated walking dead type shit. Just be patient, you’ll look better if you bulk. Trust me, I’ve tried cutting first.
3. Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
70% of your gains will be made in the kitchen. I cannot stress this enough. What I lifted, how much of it, and for how long DOES NOT FUCKING MATTER. I got to the point you see in the picture above by METICULOUSLY counting calories and tracking macros. You need to understand that your nutrition is everything. Calories in vs calories out will dictate whether you lose or gain weight, PERIOD. None of that paleo, keto, low carb, lemon detox, cucumber water bullshit matters unless you’re eating at a deficit to lose weight or eating in a surplus to gain weight. “Idk why I’m not losing weight, I’m eating salads and stuff, it’s been really slow” = YOU’RE EATING TOO MUCH. “Idk why I can’t gain weight bro, I eat so much, my metabolism is just too fast” = YOU’RE EATING TOO LITTLE. It’s really as simple as that. If you want GUARANTEED GOALS, you need to buy a food scale and start tracking your shit. This tool will be your BEST FRIEND in guaranteeing that you meet your goals: http://www.1percentedge.com/ifcalc/
Enter the information to the best of your ability. Entering a body fat percentage is important. Google: body fat percentages men and eyeball it to the best of your ability. Be generous with this estimate. I went to the student health office to get my body fat percentage checked at the end of my cut shown above, and the lady, who had no fuckin clue what she was doing, told me I was 7.5% body fat. If you know anything about bodybuilding, that shit’s impossible without some sort of performance enhancing drug like Clen. I’m definitely more along the lines of 11%. Don’t trust scales or calipers unless you know what you’re doing: eyeball it.
Set the pie chart dials on the next page to the exact same thing, I don’t cycle how much I eat depending on rest/workout days, so just make them equal and change them equally everytime you add or reduce calories. The numbers should read the same on both pies.
The algorithm will tell you your TDEE, which is how much you need to eat every day to neither lose or gain weight. These are your maintenance calories.
Your week change will either show -____lbs in red which is how much weight you’ll lose per week or +____lbs in blue which is how much you’ll gain a week. We’ll talk about what this should be depending on your goals in a bit.
The page after that is whatever, a stupidly rough estimate of how long it’ll take, but the lean body mass/fat gained percentage things are decently accurate. This shit said I’d be done with my cut in 4 months but it took 6 because my body is weird and shit and like cheat days or whatever.
4. Adjust your calories/macros to your goals
General rule of thumb for dieting/cutting: lose 0.8-1.5lbs a week to minimize muscle loss. This will depend on how quickly you want to lose weight/your body composition. The slower you lose, the more muscle mass you’ll retain. The faster you lose weight, the more muscle mass you’ll lose. You cannot, and I repeat, you CANNOT lose weight and increase muscle mass at the same time. Muscle mass is different than strength, you can maintain strength and even increase it to a certain degree, but you CANNOT LOSE FAT AND GAIN MUSCLE AT THE SAME TIME. The basic laws of thermodynamics do not allow it. (Unless you’re on anabolic steroids, in which case why the fuck are you here). When you’re cutting, you’re in a state of catabolism: you’re breaking down large molecules ie fat and muscle, to release energy. You’re starving your body so that it has to use the resources it already has in the form of stored energy to compensate. This is the whole idea of weight loss, using your adipose aka stored fat as energy. How can your body create matter when it NEEDS to burn it to survive.
General rule of thumb for bulking: gain 0.4-0.7 lbs a week to minimize fat gain and maximize muscle gain. You do not need to eat your ass off to bulk. This is what we call “dirty bulking”, and is a sure-fire way to get those big fat man boobs you’ve been dying for. Chill out. Eat just what you need for your body to grow and you’ll get massive while staying as lean as possible. ~200-300 Calories above maintenance is ALL YOU NEED to grow, of course adjusting to your metabolic needs. If you go off the deep end and eat like a pig, your cutting phase is going to be fucking hell. Trust me, I ate my ass off at DLG my first year and got strong but god fuck my ass I had to cut for so long. Unnecessary.
General rule of thumb for macros: 0.8g of Protein/lb of bodyweight. 0.5g of Fat/lb of bodyweight. The rest is carbs. You do not NEED 1g/lb of protein, that is a bullshit marketing ploy made by supplement companies to sell you their whey protein. Follow this and you’ll be fine. Set the dials on the pie chart following this and you’ll be good to go. Now just a quick explanation of how you can play outside these ranges. Protein is required for building muscle and maintaining it. You can emphasize this a bit on a cut, since you need to maintain your muscle, so I gUeSs if you want to do 1g/lb, go for it. Carbs are NECESSARY for energy. You can emphasize this a bit when you’re bulking so that you have as much energy in the gym as possible. Don’t fuck with your fat ranges too much, they’re vital for hormonal responses and joint/organ health.
NOW THE HARD PART: Finding out what you can eat. There is no such thing as good carbs or bad carbs, good calories or bad calories, they’re all just systems of measurement. Pizza is calorie dense and has a fuck ton of carbs and fats, but you could theoretically get shredded eating only pizza. You’ll probably feel like shit though and you’ll probably only be able to eat like 4 slices for the whole day. No, you do not have to eat fuckin dry ass chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli to get swole/shredded. Find some reasonably healthy food you like and do some simple dimensional analysis to cater it to your needs. Of course white rice is gonna be cleaner, more filling, and easier to calculate than pizza as a source for carbs, but again, if it fits your macros.
CALORIES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN MACROS. Macros are important, but you need to make sure your calories are dialed in or else you’re not gonna reach your goals as accurately and efficiently as possible. It’s ok if your macros don’t match your calculations, but you better damn well make sure that you’re hitting damn near your necessary calories. Here’s how it’s gonna work:
I like oatmeal in the morning. The box says 150 calories per 40 grams of oatmeal. I need 380 calories worth of oatmeal to fit my diet plan. 150calories/40grams * 380calories/x-grams. Solve for x by cross multiplying and then dividing, and that’s how many grams of oatmeal you’re gonna eat to reach your 380 calorie mark. Do this for everything, calories and macros. I really like using myfitnesspal because often times they’ll tell you how many calories are in 1g of any type of food: apples, cereal, chicken, rice. Then just play with the “servings of that 1 gram” to match the calories you need for that food. In this case, 101 “servings” of 1g of oatmeal would give me 380 calories. 101g of oatmeal a day. Boom, done.
NOTE: Weigh all your meat and grains dry. Weigh your rice and pasta before you cook it, since the water from cooking will add weight and measuring after you cook it will be less accurate. Make sure you’re finding caloric information for “dry or uncooked” versions of your foods. For meats, weigh them raw. Cooking releases water from the meat, which again, makes measuring afterwards less accurate.
Creating a lifting routine is called “programming” which is way too fucking detailed to get into now unless you wanna read like 30 more pages of shit. Here’s some basics depending on where you’re at physically:
If you’re weak as fuck and can’t even bench the bar for reps:
Look up Strong lifts or 5×5 and start with those programs. Follow them to a tee and do that until you reach a decent strength goal. I started with this and stopped when I could bench a plate, deadlift 2 plates and squat 2 plates for a 5 sets for 5 reps scheme. General rule of thumb is within 6-12 months of training, you should be able to bench your bodyweight, squat 1.2x bodyweight, and deadlift 1.5x bodyweight.
If you’re already decently trained/ have been going to the gym for a couple months:
Look up my push pull leg routine in this Lifting Folder I shared with you. This is what I did during the second year of my training. It’s pretty straightforward, you can modify it as you like, but this is what worked for me. This is where PERSONAL RESEARCH comes into play. You gotta look stuff up. I HIGHLY recommend AthleanX, Jeff Nippard, and OmarIsuf on YouTube, they cut all the broscience bullshit and give you scientifically supported information. Buff Dudes is pretty good because they have a lot of beginner oriented information. HodgeTwins if you wanna laugh your fuckin ass off.
If you’re like 2 years in and want to get REALLY FUCKIN SWOLE
Why are you here, you probably already know your shit. You can look at my hypertrophy routine if you’d like but whatever.
Programming is hard, everyone is different and it’s hard to give you a good routine unless we meet in person and assess your weaknesses and strengths. I’m just telling you what I did and what worked for me. The nutrition thing is a fucking commandment though, that’s the most important thing, PEEEEERIOD. You can’t do anything if your diet isn’t on point… well you can but that shit will be slow, frustrating, and hard.
CHECK OUT BODYBUILDING.COM, REDDIT.COM/R/BODYBUILDING, HONESTLY JUST GOOGLE MOST OF YOUR SHIT ITS ALL PRETTY MUCH THE SAME. HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT, HOW TO GAIN WEIGHT, EXERCISES, ETC. Just watch out for fad diets and bullshit medicine ball exercise crap. We’re scientists, not fuckin spandex wearing crossfit bloggers, (Nothing wrong with crossfit).
3500 CALORIES = 1LB FAT. That’s like the most important piece of info honestly.
Last couple of tips that I picked up during my journey
WEIGH YOURSELF EVERY MORNING before you drink water or do anything. Your body weight fluctuates heavily based on salt intake, glycogen levels, and other biological bullshit. If you weigh yourself today and weigh 130lbs, follow your diet, and weigh yourself tomorrow and the scale reads 134 lbs, you didn’t gain 4 lbs overnight. 3500 calories = 1lb of fat. To gain 4 lbs overnight you’d have to eat 14,000 calories over your maintenance the day before. Unless you’re a fat bitch, that didn’t happen and you’re fine. Also, studies show that your body can’t even store that much in a day, you’ll probably shit it out or lose it via heat due to thermogenesis. Obviously don’t eat like 5 pizzas and expect not to get fat, but falling off your diet isn’t THAT big of a deal. Stay strict and consistent for the best results. Yea my bad, I talk a lot. Anyways, weigh yourself every day in the morning after shitting and pissing, mark it in like google notes or something, and then take the average every week for a more accurate reading of your weekly loss/gains. If you’re meeting that goal for that week: Great. If not, adjust the calories, eat that for the week, and check again. Everyone’s bodies and metabolisms are different, the calculator is just there to give you a general baseline of where to start. Adjust until you’re losing/gaining what you need to lose/gain. Try to make your adjustments in +/- 150-200 calorie increments to keep it controlled.
TRACK EVERY WORKOUT!! I’ve tracked EVERYTHING I’ve done for the past two years. Not even joking, I have 823 entries in my google notes. Track EVERY EXERCISE, EVERY SET, AND EVERY REP YOU DO FOR THAT EXERCISE, EVERY DAY, INCLUDING WEIGHT, FORM, AND FAILURES. Make notes for yourself: sloppy/clean form, go up, etc. You need to do what’s called “progressive overload” if you’re bulking, which is making sure you did better than last week’s workout. If you hit the maximum rep range on your lift for all 3 sets last week, add more weight or do more reps, don’t do the same shit or you won’t grow. Progressively increase the work you put in, adding weight but keeping your form clean and controlled. If you’re cutting, do your BEST to maintain the same reps/sets and weight as last week. Shit, sometimes you can even get stronger on a cut. I managed to maintain almost all my strength over a 6 month cut doing this, because I tracked fucking everything.
INTERMITTENT FASTING. I plateaued in my weightloss about 4 months in. Yes, calories matter and yes, I was tracking, but the body is fucking weird. Look this shit up on your own time, it’s hard to explain. Train fasted, you’ll shred weight: again do your own research or ask me in person, im getting kinda tired typing lol.
HOW TO STAY SANE WHILE CUTTING: 6 months of pain, denying free costco pizza at meetings, binge drinking on weekends, taco tuesdays, donuts at work, pi-day at blaze. Shit’s hard dude, you’ll be a mental soldier at the end of it all. People will ask “Whaaaat? You’re crazy, don’t you want FREE food?” They don’t know what your goals are. Refuse them politely, don’t even try to explain that you’re cutting (douche move, don’t be that guy), and stay on track. CHEAT DAYS ARE OK AS LONG AS YOU DON'T GO WAY OVER YOUR DEFICIT. You'll fuck up all the hard work you did during the week if you binge. If you decide to do a weekly cheat meal, do some research on that burger you're about to demolish, and remove whatever meals in your diet would match that burger’s calories to a reasonably close degree. Enjoy life, don't cut on your birthday, everything is zero calories on the day of your last final. Caffeine and water will be your best friends. Hunger pang? Chug a fat glass or two of water. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant and also helps increase your metabolism as well as calories burned due to the thermogenic effects of the chemical. COFFEE HAS ZERO CALORIES, GOD BLESS. You can drink it during your fasting window due to this. Now, what I’m about to say may piss off some misinformed veggie warriors, but being a man who swears by tried and true, peer-reviewed RESEARCH STUDIES, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT: ORGANIC FOODS ARE BULLSHIT. I mean jesus christ, the FDA wouldn’t approve of a pesticide that would kill the human population. “EHHH BUT PESTICIDES KILL BUGS HOW COULD THEY BE HARMLESS”. Listen, if a fuckin’ golden retriever was fucking up your strawberry patch, you could spray those motherfucking berries with dark chocolate and BOOM, pesticide. But you don’t see anyone talking shit about chocolate, do you? I ain’t paying triple the price for a pack of fucking bRoWn eGgs and tiny, deformed apples. Give me them soft-ball sized shits. We’re an apex, superior, BIG BRAINED species that have unlocked the ability to modify the genetic code of our fucking food. Let’s show those poor, overworked, and underpaid PhD students some fucking respect and save some money. NOW: their effects on ecosystems in terms of creating pesticide-resistant superbugs and genetically modified niche-crowding super-crops is a different ethical discussion entirely. If you eat organic or are vegetarian/vegan for environmental reasons, power to you and I support you 100%. Thank you for making the sacrifice in the name of our home, you’re stronger and more selfless than I could ever be. Watch Food Inc on Netflix man, shits crazy out there.
ZERO CALORIE SWEETENERS/SODAS ARE OK. There have been ZERO, I repeat, ZERO studies linking aspartame to any sort of disease. Any studies or blogs telling you that aspartame is bad, show you some bullshit ass biased studies where the participants were already obese and predisposed to those diseases. Think about the general demographic that drinks diet-coke. What image comes up when you think of a person that drinks zero calorie sodas? You’re probably not in that demographic. You’re drinking it to stay sane as an above average, healthy, weightlifting and disciplined person, not as a means to justify the family sized bag of doritos you consume on a daily basis. It’s a fucking synthesized compound with a chemical structure that allows it to bind to the “sweet” sensing gustatory cells located in the taste buds of your tongue, tricking your brain into thinking that it’s tasting something sweet. Coke Zero tastes fucking bomb, it’s basically aspartame and carbonated water with some other food-safe artificial flavors and colors. If you can show me even ONE study that links aspartame or any sweetening chemical for that matter to ANY sort of disease or illness WITH A P-VALUE < 0.05, I will PERSONALLY suck your fucking balls, but until then, suck mine.
CHILL OUT ON THE CARDIO. I did HIIT training through boxing and it fucking wrecked me, but I compensated for the calories lost by adjusting my diet just a bit to make sure I wasn’t in a severe deficit and losing all my gains as a result. Do like 10-15 minutes of light cardio like 2-3 times a week on a bulk, and more so if you’re plateauing on your cut. NO you do not need cardio to get shredded, CALORIES IN VS OUT IS ALL THAT MATTERS, but that shit helps when your fat, faded, cheating-ass reaches for that bag of cheetos at 3AM. It more or less guarantees your deficit if you’re tracking calories. Do cardio on a bulk to minimize fat gain.
TLDR: eat, sleep, lift
Aite that’s it, start googling shit and you’ll be well on your way.
Oh yea, also check out my Diet document if you wanna get a good idea of what that whole process/result looks like.
NOW YOU LISTEN HERE, MOTHER FUCKER.
THIS IS GONNA TAKE TIME, DISCIPLINE, BLOOD, SWEAT, TEARS, AND AT TIMES, GENITAL DISCHARGE. IT’S TRIAL AND ERROR. STICK TO IT. DON’T FALTER. THE GAINS WILL COME. WAKE UP EARLY AND LIFT AT 7AM, CAUSE FUCK THOSE GOD DAMN, GREY T-SHIRT WEARING, WEIGHT TRAINING CLASS, ASSHOLES.
But no seriously, no one will motivate you but yourself. You gotta WANT it. You fucking hear me? YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE DECISION TO CARE. IT'S ALL YOU. 1-2 weeks in you’re gonna be sore as fuck and will want to bitch out, I promise you. It happens to everyone, it happened to me. But if you REAALLY want it, you won’t bitch out because you’re different. You’re not a 3 week, “new year, new me” type of person. You’re that guy that’s gonna keep going, and going, and going, keeping those earbuds in, blasting whatever garbage trap-shit you can find, tracking your shit and ignoring the bullshitters because you’re a strong, independent motherfucker who has PASSION and AMBITION. “Ehhhh fuuuuck it I’ll go tomorrow, ehhhh fuck it I’m too tired, fuuuck the gym, ehhh fuck weighing food, ehhhh I gotta study, where dat snooooze button doe…. fuuuuck it, ehhhh aksgfjh;askgj”. THAT VOICE IS EVIL. IT’S THE FUCKING GAINS GOBLIN TRYING TO RUN OFF WITH YOUR HARD EARNED MYOFIBRILS. FIGHT IT. ANNOUNCE YOUR GOAL: “I’m gonna get on that FUCKING beach cruiser, and I’m gonna rotate my legs for 5 minutes until I arrive at that piece of SHIT Recreational Center.” COUNT TO 3, STAND THE FUCK UP, AND DO IT. SET THAT FUCKING ALARM. CRUSH IT MAN. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT.
I BELIEVE IN YOU.
Pee is stored in the balls.