I am going to sound arrogant, but this is not my intent:
I know shit that you don't.
You know shit. You might know a lot of shit. You might know some of the shit that I know. When I tell you some of the shit that I know, you might say, "I know that shit, too." However, you likely do not know all of the shit that I have compiled in my brain over the last 35 years.
It was early last week while speaking to a client in the gym where I was reminded how I sometimes assume that because I find something rudimentary, everyone else knows this, as well. I started thinking about all of the little or "simple" things that I know, and figured that I would put together a list of things that people may consider "gems." Some of them you may know, but some of them you may not. Some of them you may completely disagree with, but I will fall back on my decades of experience, and I'm likely right, and you are not. THAT was an arrogant statement. However, it is probably accurate.
My list will be all over the place in that I will cover things that involve training, nutrition, supplementation, and anything else that might even be remotely related to achieving your physique goals. I could probably have a list that runs for pages, but instead, I am going to focus on my top-35 gems (one for every year I have been involved with bodybuilding).
Feel free to respond in the comments section if you disagree, or if you feel that the following gems are, in fact, something you knew all about before reading my article. I anticipate this because, well, it's easy to get information from someone and then pretend you knew it all along. It happens all of the time on the internet, so this should be no different. If you learn even one thing from the list below, it is one thing you didn't know before reading my article. Please comment on that, as well. It will help to offset some of the shitty comments.
- Using progressive overload, in reference to poundage, is not the only way to achieve hypertrophy. I would even argue that it isn't the best way to achieve hypertrophy, but this is a list of gems or bullet points, so I can't break down every gem and discuss it at length.
- Training intensity trumps progressive overload for hypertrophy. Now, I did not say that heavy weights don't matter.
- Calories in and calories out does not account for hormone manipulation. Calories in and calories out works for the average person, but for someone trying to build or maintain muscle and get ridiculous conditioning, you will be slitting your wrists if you subscribe solely to this concept as a dieting method.
- The top trainers in the industry do not use Intermittent Fasting, IIFYM, and aren't writing vegan nutrition programs for top bodybuilders. The reason should be obvious.
- GH peptides are not used anywhere near as much by high-level bodybuilders as the average or newbie bodybuilder thinks.
- If you are not training to failure, stay at home, and sit on the couch.
- If you "think" you have gyno, you probably don't. The vast majority of people will know, for sure, if they are experiencing gyno.
- If you have a shitty body part five years into hard training, that body part will likely be shitty forever. Your focus should be to make it less shitty, but it will probably always be your worst body part.
- Training to failure for 14 reps or training with a slower rep scheme that causes failure at eight reps is still failure. This is one reason I feel progressive overload is overrated (I did not say it doesn't't work; I am just saying it is overrated).
- If you are an older bodybuilder or one that is prone to injuries (or both), focus more on time under tension vs. progressive overload.
- The vast majority of injuries in the gym happen due to the weight being too heavy or shitty form, NOT directly from intensity. So, train intensely and use perfect form without focusing as much on moving the heaviest weight possible, and you will have a better chance at longevity while still growing and progressing.
- Carbohydrate will not be stored as fat if there is a need for the carbohydrate. EG: replenishing glycogen stores, training, other activity, etc.
- See above in reference to eating carbs at bedtime, as well. If you train late in the evening, your body may have a use for carbs right up until bedtime.
- Processed carbs get a bad rap. Processed carbs do have a place in a bodybuilder's diet, but the timing, amount, and level of glycogen depletion are critical.
- I heard it once said that if you are not lean, you are not depleted. This is one of the dumbest things I have heard in 35 years. There are many others, but this is one of the dumbest.
- You can't support eating white rice and pasta in a regular bodybuilding diet meal and then argue about how processed carbs are the devil's's food and unhealthy. This is counterintuitive, and yet so many people continue to do this.
- Eating fat in a cheat/refeed/skipload meal will only make you fat if you are not depleted enough.
- Muscle DOES utilize fat when the muscle is depleted. Many people are shocked to hear this, but this is basic information.
- Eating fat, while insulin levels are elevated, will not make you fat. If you try to show me a study that says otherwise, I will counter with the thousands of people I have trained for 20 years—from the average Joe to high-level and pro competitors in every single division—who have gotten shredded.
- Anyone who insists that antiquated dieting methods of decreasing calories, increasing cardio and not having refeed/cheat/skipload meals is the best method for getting shredded, I encourage you to continue doing what you are doing. Typically, your level of "shredded" is not everyone else's's level of "shredded," but I apologize for my digression.
- Supplementation is overrated unless it has to do with a deficiency. The two exceptions are high-quality protein powders and high-quality EAAs.
- Pre-workouts are overrated and a waste of money. If you can't get as good of a pump without using a pre-workout, learn how to train harder.
- The fastest way to go flat is to cut sodium.
- One of the biggest misconceptions about peaking for a show is that you cannot move water without reducing, restricting, or eliminating sodium.
- I am not against diuretic use as long as it is responsible. That being said, there are many competitors and trainers who say they don't use them, and they most certainly do. When you look 12 weeks out at five weeks out, and then at one week out look like you are six weeks out but get shredded in the last two days before a show, your ass is using a diuretic. In fact, it's your ass that gave it away because your glutes were water-logged three days ago, and are now bone dry and hard as nails.
- Intra-carbs are overrated, and I consider them to be the latest supplement craze. If you are cutting and don't have a wicked fast metabolism, don't bother with intra-carbs. One exception is if you train first thing in the morning and do not have a meal before training.
- Do not use EAAs or BCAAs before, during, or immediately after cardio. If you do post-workout cardio and use EAAs while weight training, stop ingesting the EAAs at least 15 minutes before the end of your weight-training session.
- If you DO use intra-carbs, you better cut your post-workout carbs down because the demand for post-workout carbs will be considerably less if you are ingesting carbs while training.
- Increasing calories can help you continue to progress and grow. Too many calories too fast can increase insulin resistance, which will bring your growth to a screeching halt. If you are gaining scale weight but not getting stronger within bodybuilding rep ranges, you are likely becoming more insulin resistant.
- If you are getting stronger within bodybuilding rep ranges, you are growing. If you are holding your strength stable while peeling off body fat, you are not losing muscle. It is virtually impossible to lose muscle while maintaining or increasing strength within bodybuilding rep ranges.
- You are not carb-sensitive, you are calorie-sensitive.
- High-carb refeeds/cheat meals/skiploads can be used successfully with people who have higher BG levels and even for those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. The trick is making sure that they are becoming more insulin sensitive and can benefit from the carbs.
- The large majority of people—even seasoned bodybuilders—squat too deep and have a "butt wink." You should not squat as deep as you can but instead should squat as deep as your hip and hamstring flexibility will allow before the hips start to turn under you (posterior pelvic tilt).
- There is not one exercise you will do in the gym where the "ass out, chest out" mantra does not apply.
- No one will touch Phil Heath at the O. I like Brandon Curry, but he's a distant second. Phil's ego would not allow him to come back if he wasn't sure he would destroy the field. This year's O is about who places second.
If you disagree with any of my gems above, you're wrong, but let me know in the comments section below.