More sets and long duration of training ≠ more growth

This is the biggest takeaway for me.

You don't have to spend too long (90 mins+) in the gym.

Too many sets of training can actually lead to overtraining. Meaning you're breaking down the muscle too much for your body to repair (and grow).

Under long duration of training, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which increase blood sugar levels and fight inflammation. This interferes with your body to use protein correctly and stops muscle growth

How does muscle actually grow?

  1. Muscles grow as a result of micro-tears in the muscle tissue (from lifting weights), which the body then repairs to adapt better later on.

  2. Muscles grow from overloading. That means lifting heavy weights, but is done in short and intense sets of relatively low reps. This type of training causes optimal micro-tear without overtraining your muscles.

Note: The burning sensation you feel when working out is simply an infusion of lactic acid in the muscle, which tells the body to release growth-inducing hormones, but too much of lactic acid in the body will impair growth and cause tissues to be broken down.

  1. Muscles grow outside the gym, when you eat, sleep and rest. You should get at least 7-9 hours sleep as an adult.

  2. Muscles grow when they're properly fed after workout.

On Fat loss and losing weight

Eat less than you expend = lose weight

Well duh. But not everyone knows their base metabolic rate, the amount of calories you burn even when you do nothing.

So get a weighing machine that tells you that and figure out how much you need to eat to lose weight.

You can't target a specific body part to reduce fat

It simply doesn't work that way. You can reduce fat by proper diesting and exercise, and your body will decide how it comes off.

Look out for hidden calories

2 tablespoons of olive oil used to cook your chicken breast (240 calories)
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise in your homemade chicken salad (200 calories)
3 cubes of feta cheese on your salad (140 calories)
3 tablespoons of cream in your coffee (80 calories)
2 pats of butter with your toast (70 calories)”

How to plan your meal to maximize gain

Make breakfast your largest meal

Why? Because your metabolism is highest in the morning and then slows down as night approaches.

Eat most of your carbs before and after training

So it will give you energy to fuel your workout and help repair of muscles afterward.

What is the best pre workout meal?

30 grams of high-GI carbs (such as rice cake, bread, fruits, potatoes) and about 30 grams of fast-digesting protein (such as whey protein)

Pre-sleep meal

A slow-digesting protein should be the last meal of your day as your body goes into a 6-8 hours fast. When the protein you eat before bed is fully digested, your body will start breaking down muscles.

Examples of slow digesting proteins:

  • Casein
  • egg white / egg protein powder
  • low fat cottage cheese
  • 0% fat greek yogurt

The bigger, leaner, stronger diet plan

General rules for when you're bulking

  • Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day
  • Eat 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day
  • Eat 1 gram of healthy fat per 3 pounds of body weight per day

It's worth noting that you should also get enough sleep (7-9 hours)
Excerpt From: Matthews, Michael. “Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body (The Build Healthy Muscle Series).” iBooks.

General rules for fat loss

  • Eat 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day
  • Eat 1 gram of carbs per pound of body weight per day
  • Eat 1 gram of healthy fats per 5 pounds of body weight per day

The bigger, leaner, stronger training formula

Train 1-2 muscle groups per day

Train 1 major muscle group (such as chest or legs), or
Train 1 major and 1 minor muscle group (such as back and abs), or
Train 2 minor muscle groups (such as biceps and triceps).

So you can focus and give them 100%, while also not over-fatigue your body.

do 4-6 reps of most exercises

Lift weight that allows you to do at least 4 reps and pretty hard to get to 6 reps.

Except for abs and calves, which is recommended to use weights that allows you to do 10-12 reps.

Note: If you can perform a set of 6 reps with perfect form, you should add weight to your next set.

Do 6-9 sets per muscle group

A working set is the heavy, 4-6 reps previously mentioned, so do 6-9 sets for each muscle group.

Rest 2-3 minutes in between sets

This is not a strict rule. You should continue when your body's heart rate has come down and you feel like you have the energy to do another set.

Train for 45-60 minutes

Your workout should be short and intense. Most people dragged their workout to 90+ minutes because they rest more than necessary and get distracted by chit chats and phones.

I find myself having more motivation to go workout knowing it will be a short session.

Train each muscle group once every 5-7 days

Your body takes 2-5 days to fully repair muscles after training, so they should get plenty of rest before being trained again.

Take a week off training every 8-10 weeks

If you train 3-5 days per week, your central nervous system will get progressively overloaded, and will need a complete rest periodically.

Signs of overtraining and need rest:

  • you feel low on energy
  • feeling weak
  • disinterested in training