You ever heard the term "Built like a brick shithouse"? I've seen many brick outhouses, but they do not remind me of a well build body.
I’ve always considered myself one of the unlucky ones when it came to building a muscular physique. Through High School I was always small, short and skinny. I wasn’t the smallest kid on the football team, but let’s say I was always in the front row in team pictures, you know the 5’’-7" or less crowd.
I was also on the wrestling team and was in the 135 weight class. All the guys would spit in cups all day and not eat in hopes to make weight. I’d sit back and gulp down my burritos, bagel dogs, chips and soda without a worry and still have a few pounds to spare.
No matter what I did I always seemed to never break 140. I even took some notable spots on the weight room wall of fame for my lifting numbers. My strength to weight ratio was the best on the team! But I could not get bigger, no matter how hard I worked out!
After High School I went off to college, living on my own with fellow roommates…the basic college gig. I worked part time and my parents made sure I ate and had the rent paid. Everything else was on me for the next 4 (which turned into 5) years of life.
I joined a gym and continued to work out. I watched my roommate drink these shakes every day that I could not afford, and I passed it off as nothing. I saw him eating special meals. I saw him grow. He definitely had better genetics I thought.
I continued the college diet, and ate anything I wanted. I probably ate 2-3k calories a day, but I did not understand nutrients and rest. I made it to the gym with a partner 3-4 times a week and we crawled out of that place sometimes, working out to failure.
My partner grew, had 16 inch biceps and was 160 lbs. I had 13" biceps and 140 lbs. Sure I was strong and ripped, but I still looked weak. I saw cross country runners more ripped and sizable that I. I passed this off and used it as an excuse to bring in my bad genetics. I told everyone else I’d never be fat.
I got a steady woman, moved in with her my Junior year, and quit going to the gym.
Fast forward 14 years. 135lbs, skinny weak, 33 years old. Pizza, Mexican and beer were the main staples in my diet, yet I did not put on weight. I started to get a small beer belly, but the scales remained steady 140-145. I felt awful, and had no energy to even do chores or play with the kids…but I could sure take my beer.
I decided I wanted what I had before. Besides, I was ripped with a nice body before I thought. But this time, this time I would do research. I found T-Nation and prowled there a few months. It changed me forever.
I applied a few things and I blew up 30 lbs in less than 6 months, mostly muscle.
1.THE BUILDING MATERIALS CALLED FOOD:
I learned finally that this time I needed to approach training as if I was building a house. I needed drive (Labor), materials (food) and rest. I always thought I ate enough, but I was eating the wrong things and at the wrong times.
In order to build my house I needed materials and the right kinds. I never realized it was the meats and dairy I needed to actually build size. I never tracked carbs to protein, nor did I really know what foods were which!!! I sure paid attention in Health class.
WOW! PROTEIN! The key to my failures surely! I needed it often and at the right time. Eating 1,500 calories 2x a day was not going to cut it. I had to have some kind protein in my body at all times. I made it a point to eat 30-40 grams every 2-3 hours. Through this method I did not have to count calories so much as protein.
I added Milk and high calorie milk/protein shakes at least 3x per day. This way I did not have to scarf large amounts of meat. I could and easily ate 5,000 calories a day.
I used an MRP with 40Protein/40Carbs upon awakening, had a breakfast at 10am, lunch at 12, shake at 3 (GYM) then Dinner at 7, and a mega milk/ice cream, berries, yogurt and banana before bed at 10pm.
I kept a food log tracking daily protein, calories and morning scale weight. I usually met my calories through enough protein (1 gram per pound of bodyweight), so I soon stopped counting calories. Keeping this log kept me honest and it should be a staple in anyone’s process if you are serious about putting on some mass.
Knowing when and how much you eat is critical and a mental confirmation that you are getting the right materials to build your house.
Supplements like Creatine, Fish Oil and Mutivitamins are a good thing to have as staples.
THIS eating process more than anything contributed to my growth. I believe food has 70% importance overall! The remaining 30% is the workout program and rest. Supplements should be just that. Never rely on them to do your work with eating food for you.
2.THE PROGRAM: Keep it Simple Stupid!
The second thing I discovered was less volume and heavier weight. When I began I tested all my max efforts for:
Lat Pull Downs/Rows
Deadlift (I did not due to back issues)
Squats (I did not due to back issues)
I took 75% of that max, used it in a 4x6-8 routine. The first sets were 8, and the last were about 6. I found my strength and size responded IMMEDIATELY with the proper building materials (food) combined with heavy weights. I also learned thatless is more. I didn’t have to follow some complicated rotating regimen.
I took on a 2 day split like this:
Day 1 Monday: Chest, Triceps, Legs 75% of max.
-Dips 4x 10
-Tri-Extensions or Skull Crushers 4x8
-Squat or Lunge 4x8
-Calf Raises- 3x20
Day 2 Tuesday: Back, Traps, Biceps, Shoulders.
-Pull ups or Seated Rows / Bentover Rows. 4x8 (Sometimes I did 2)
-Barbell Shrugs 4x8
-Curls 4x10 (I like more volume here)
-Sitting Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4x8
Day 3 Wednesday (Rest)
Day 4 Thurs. (Same as Mon)
Day 5 Fri. (Same as Tues)
The program was simple and low volume, but I made it a point to go to or close to failure on all sets, since we are in the 6-8 rep range of max efforts. If I felt I could do any more than 8, then I raised the weight accordingly. I did not do 3-4 movements for each muscle group.
If I doubled up movements they were on chest and back only. I found this split to allow for 2 full days of rest and 3 on weekends. It made it simple. I had no charts to follow or sheets to track. Just balls-to-the-wall heavy, exhaustive lifting WITH GOOD FORM.
Recently I changed this up, but came back as it worked the best for me and still does.
The mind is an amazing thing. My attitude went from “I can’t gain no matter what I do” to “If I do these things, I do and will grow”. Keep a good attitude and don’t make excuses for anything! Know that the nightly protein intake IS fueling growth as you doze off when resting.
Getting rest is critical. If you want to party and stay up, you won’t do yourself any good. The body needs to rest to build. If you do drugs or drink, your body will not absorb nutrients and will not grow like it could if it did not have to deal with toxins.
So, if you are a beginner, keep it simple and approach this as if you were building a house. The materials are very important. As important and in this case I believe more important that your contractor (Program).
You CAN build the brick shithouse. It’s a lot of work, dedication, mental toughness etc., but it is also very simple.
1.Building Materials are the Essential. You can’t build a stable and sturdy house with paper. You need the right foods at the right time, many times a day. Use MRP’s like Metabolic Drive to simplify the process. Keep that food and weight log.
2.Keep Your Program Simple. Avoid the paralysis by analysis syndrome many fall into. Lift heavy and do compound, classic lifts. No swissballs needed here.
3.Have a Positive Attitude. Knowing you are growing through the food log and training will produce results.
- Rest. Need I say more, get your sleep and fuel up beforehand.
It’s simple. These are the things I have personally found to work for me. I clamed myself to be a nongainer. I hope the beginner can find something useful. It’s time I shared some of what I’ve gained here in simple terms. We have a lot of articles that dive deep, but don’t get caught into thinking you need to do all these things that are said all the time. Take your info and incorporate it where needed.
Now I don’t claim to have the Shithouse build yet, but I do know what is getting me there.