Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Definition of Lean Gains

It's time for another success story. I'm sitting on tons of these. People are getting amazing results following the Leangains guide and I'm stoked to see success stories dropping in by the dozen. This one is pretty damn impressive.

I was quite pleased with my results after an intermittent fasting style "bulk" back in 2006. I gained about 20 lbs of weight in a little more than three months. When I did the math, I came to the conclusion that the ratio of muscle:fat gain was approximately 2:1, meaning 67% of the weight gained was muscle.

What's a standard ratio of fat and muscle gain for the average weight trainer with a non-retarded diet and training routine? Based on the DXA readings I've seen from some folks that have been tracking this, I'd say about 50-60% of the weight gain is typically muscle. With that in mind, I certainly didn't complain. Even though I did gain some fat, I started out very lean and ended up lean - with a lot of extra meat on my bones. Heck, my results after that bulk inspired the name of this site (which is a tad ironic, since most people are using my approach to cut).

However, my results pale in comparison to those of Tanner Maluchnik. Without futher ado, I'll just let him tell you his story.

The definition of lean gains

"Though I personally have not consulted Martin on my IF approach, I have learned everything from him by reading his blog from start to finish including a majority of the comments.

A little over 6 months ago I started eating paleo nutrition style, I was sitting around 170lbs of a short (5'6") and stocky muscle and fat. Due to personal reasons, I stopped working out and eating very clean paleo style. I dropped my weight down to an unhealthily 135lbs in a matter of a couple months. Tons of muscle mass as well as fat dropped off while following the paleo nutrition lifestyle along with my own form of intermittent fasting - as in, I ate whenever I felt like it. Which was like once a day probably only consuming 800-1200 calories at most. I felt excellent from eating the clean paleo foods but I knew this was just not an healthy lifestyle, being sedentary and eating so little. No matter how clean.

Tanner at about 170 lbs back in October. This was before he dropped a ton of weight by undereating.

A little over 3 months ago I decided to get back into my passion. Strength training and nutritrion. Throughout my life since 7th grade I have always been in some form of strength training program for baseball, football and hockey. Then in college I decided to join the cheerleading squad for a large Big 10 University and was in decent shape through all of that. So my base and knowledge of many different routines, styled to quite a few different sports and activities, was there.

However, I decided to pick up a few books, specifically Supertraining, Starting Strength , The New Rules of Lifting, and also read Martin's entire blog (could not afford his consultation at the time), Alan Aragon's work, and Lyle McDonald's work.

I devised my own strength training program of sticking to the basic compound movement: squats, deadlifts, standing overhead military, bench press, incline press, and bent-over rows. A lot of what I do I learned from Martin as well in the sense that I do not worry about the accessory exercises and focus on compound movements. However I am not currently on a high-intensity approach. I train fasted with 10g of BCAAs beforehand (per Martin's recommendations and research study he provided) and have never felt stronger.

Deciding to pick up strength training again was a wise choice...

I devised my own nutrition program based on what I learned from Martin, Alan, and Lyle. The paleo lifestyle had its merits while I could afford it, but at the moment I find that I am not sensitive to grains, nor carbs, and find my strength and weight climbing up nicely in a high carb/high protein/low-moderate fat routine. I strongly believe the intermittent fasting approach provides wonderful insulin sensitivity with its nutrient partitioning effects.

I came into the intermittent fasting approach from a different perspective than a lot of others on this approach as I wanted to put on as much weight as fast as possible while limiting body fat gain.

While going from 140 lbs to my current weight of 164 lbs in a little over 65 days, there has been no increase in pant sizes and no increase using two different body fat calipers (Jackson-Pollock 3 Point skinfold measure).

I eat tons of "unhealthy" stuff such as sugary cereals (just love em), lots and lots of plain bagels, pasta, lots of protein, and some healthy fats. My post-workout meal is around 2500 calories with around 300g carbs and lots of protein. After that, I eat whenever I am hungry again which is usually within the hour or two.

If you want to see some of the psychological and physical benefits I had on intermittent fasting before my recent mass building phase, I actually did a blog post on intermittent fasting on my blog. Some of the guidelines in that post have changed since I have changed my approach to intermittent fasting a little bit.

I can truly attribute a lot of my progress to what I have learned from Martin at leangains.com and am thinking of setting up a consultation with him whenever I can afford it.

I am now at 164 lbs at a little over 65 days from the first picture. I have never had abs before intermittent fasting but the top 4 are showing through on this lean mass building phase. The abs are solid from top to the bottom from just strictly heavy deadlifts, squats, weightup pushups and chinups. I seem to actually have leaned out a bit as well, which I guess sounds crazy. Over 20 lbs of lean mass AND body fat loss in a little over 60 days possible? The only explanation in my mind is the intermittent fasting approach and my previous base and years of strength training. I am also quite an easy gainer if I incorporate heavy weights."

- Tanner Maluchnik

24 lbs of muscle?

I asked Tanner about his strength stats before and after the weight gain, and here's what he said:

" Squats - My favorite exercise (deep squats)
Before - 135 x 10
Currently - 315 x 6 - Just got out of a new gym today hitting that, when I get to around 6 to 8 reps I will add 10lbs to lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench.

Bench Press - I was struggling on progress here so switched up my workout routine to include two bench sessions a week.
Before - 135 x 10 - was a struggle at first
Currently - 245 x 10

Deadlifts - Second favorite exercise
Before - 135 x 10
After - 335 x 4

Standing Overhead Press - Least favorite exercise
Before - 65 x 6-10
After - 160 x 8

Barbell Bent Over Rows
Before - 85 x 6-10
After - 160 x 10

Chins - Without weights to gauge strength since my own bodyweight was increasing week by week
Before - 8
Now - 27

Before - 30
Now - 85 "


Needless to say, Tanner had jaw dropping results following the Leangains approach with a few modifications of his own. 24 lbs of muscle, probably more since he looks leaner in the most recent picture, is almost unheard of.

However, it's important to have in mind that Tanner started out fairly emaciated and untrained. With that in mind, he had a lot of room for improvement. The more muscle you have, the slower the gains will be, and vice versa. I've seen similar results (rapid weight gain, most of it muscle) in beginners, and it's not a stretch to put Tanner in that category. Once he upped his calorie intake and started weight training, he blew up. The fact that he had prior weight training experience, from before his undereating phase, certainly might have helped.

Also, a short comment on the paleo diet for muscle gaining. Tanner's experience with the paleo diet should not be interpreted as him being anti-paleo. However, some people have a hard time getting sufficient calories in when adhering to exclusively paleo-based foods. For that reason, they ultimately fail to gain any appreciable amount of muscle mass - especially in combination with intermittent fasting. Personally, I don't have such a problem. I can eat enough meat, veggies and berries to satisfy a small village if I have to.

By the way, for another example of rapid muscle gain, check out Neto's results. He too gained a lot of muscle once he upped his calorie intake after a very long diet stint.

And whenever someone says "ya can't gain muscle with fasting"...just direct them here.


Patrick said...

I saw this same guy on Stronglifts.com.

Jack said...

Great stuff! I wish Martin wrote more about using IF to bulk. That's what I'm trying to do right now. Everything is the same, except I upped the calories over maintenance on workout days. Don't know know what to expect or when to up them even more.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap...swolltastic results!

enrique said...

I can't understand how he could eat a 2500 meal and after one hour or two, had hungry again?

Usually i eat a 1000-1200 lunch when i arrive at home 17pm (after training, SL5x5) and don't have hungry again until 9am next day

sometimes i have to force my self to eat some yogurt or cheese before bed, 22pm

how guys you could eat so much xD haha

Anonymous said...

Wow. Impressive results. So for an IF BULK, you wouldn't want to cut carbs too much on the rest days I'm guessing for recovery as you do when cutting or even recomping.

Even though fats are highER than the training day, I still think carbs would be pretty important for growth/recovery on the rest days.

For example, if fats are kept at 50gr or so on a training day/refeed, they might go up to .4g/lb on an off day, still leaving plenty of room for carbs but satisfying hormonal needs etc that dietary fats provide.

Keenan said...

If someone can't get enough calories on a paleo diet, they have not been introduced to fruit (e.g. bananas), yams, avocados, or butter.

Plenty of calories/carbs available from non-grain sources. Cro-magnon didn't get ripped eating a hypo caloric diet.

Wil said...

Wow- impressive transformation, Tanner! Not unusual though, in my experience w/Martin-style IF. Thanks for sharing!

LayzieBone085 said...

Whats the magical PWO meal my man?
Solid stuff, saw this on bodybuilding.com!
Great work. I sent martin my update.

Tanner Maluchnik said...

@Patrick - When was I on Stronglifts.com? Cannot find anything on there.

@Jack - Thanks! I would suggest upping your calories above maintenance on both workout days and maintenance days, once you start seeing some bodyfat appear either through the mirror or various bodyfat measurements (or both) then adjust accordingly. Its all about adjusting to meet your goals.

@Enrique - If that was you who sent me the e-mail about my blog, thanks and working on a solution.

@Keenan - I have nothing against the Paleo diet (in fact it is one of the most popular posts on my blog at LifeDestiny.net, I just have no sensitivities to grains and carbs. In fact once I started reintroducing grains is when I started dropping BF and increasing muscle mass in strength. I am actually up around 15 more lbs of muscle with a little bit more fat and plan on going back Paleo style for my cut diet. Hopefully I will have some more progress updates for LeanGains in a couple months.

@Wil - Thanks man!

@Martin - thanks for the hook up!

PaulSkav said...

Dammit, I HATE stories like this!! I find it really frustrating when people change six different things and then say one particular thing was the "secret." This guy went from paleo-starving himself to a high carb/lowfat IF diet of higher calories in addition to starting a completely different lifting program. There's no way to know if the gains came from eating better, lifting better, or both. Don't get me wrong, I am not questioning the results, it's just this would be so much more compelling if the eating habits were the only change made. Also, no report was given on actual strength gains or body measurements, so the weight gain could have come from water alone (due to the switch to the high-carb diet). I've gained 10# of "muscle" during a post-CKD carb-up. (Also a lot of creatine "muscle gain" claims were later shown to be water retention for example ... gain 10# in two weeks, stop taking creatine and pee it all away) He also stated he had "quit working out" prior to starting this, and it's very easy to put on a lot of muscle when you're a total beginner OR an experienced lifter coming off a long layoff.
Anyway, I am not hating on IF, I'm really interested in it which is why I'm reading this blog. I just wish we had better "study" of it in action. A true scientific study would change only one variable at a time. The story is inspirational, to be sure, just lacking in the data I'd like to see.

Tim B. said...

It's interesting to see that you did it high carb. I tend to have macros pretty even when I bulk just from the foods I choose but I've often wondered if eating more carbs would help muscle growth while limiting fat gain. I love bagels and cereal too so I'm sure it wouldn't be very hard for me, hahaha.

Do you think that was a big help? Have you tried eating more fat and noticed less results? I agree that the nutrient partitioning effects of IF are strong and the increase in insulin sensitivity might make perfect sense to eat high carb. Plus you keep all the good hormones going strong. What has your experience been with the high carb aspect of your diet?

Tanner Maluchnik said...

@PaulSkav - In terms of weight being water the pictures say more thn I can and also a few different calipar readings show very minimal fat (readings actually went down but being a pessimist in this regard) was gained over a 20lbs increase. As far as strength gains, when I first started I could barely rep 135x10 on squats and bench...Now sitting around 175lbs I am repping 245x10 on bench and squatting 315x6 on squats. Deadlifts are lagging a bit at 335x4, standing military is at 160x8, barbell bent over rows are at 160x10 so yeah strength is definitively through the roof and still increasing.

Tanner Maluchnik said...

@Tim B. - Everyone is different. Some people can do fine on low carb/high fat, some people can do fine on high carb/low fat. After experimentation over the years, I find I run best on high carb for the most part. However since I am currently transitioning into a maintenance/cut phase I will be sticking to more of the LeanGains protocol of high carbs/medium to low fat/high protein on training days and high fat/high protein/low carb on non-training days and will see how it turns out.

PaulSkav said...

@Tanner- thank you for the response. However, I too gained weight without an increase in caliper readings -- after a cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) -- and I know, for me, the weight was strictly water because I lost the weight again when I dropped my carb intake back down to ketosis levels. I gained and lost 10# in a matter of days with barely any caliper change. (Water can be "absorbed" in muscle along with glycogen.) Your strength gains are impressive though, so I believe you gained muscle mass.

Your pictures look great. I am impressed with your transformation and have much respect for your hard work. My scientific mind would still love to have a way to separate what the IF was doing from what your workouts were doing, and unfortunately we have no way to know that.

In any case, keep up the great work and congrats again. =D

Jack said...

@Tanne Thanks for the reply!

How low is "low fat" for you? On training days I am only getting fat from my fish oil supplements (6g) + trace amounts from fat free milk etc which is really little.

mamaelvis said...

LOL !!!! Wow. Wow. Wow !

An embarrassment of riches Martin.

Maybe you should NOT release all of the details in a book.

Consultations & speaking payoff way better when you have worked for such a reputation.

Congratulations to all involved.

Such nice work. Amazing. What a great surprise read on Saturday afternoon.

mamaelvis said...

Martin Please forget that last comment (embarrasment of riches blah blah blah). my password app filled in an old comment from a long while ago.

What I wanted to say was to Tanner.

Good work wow. Enjoy those sugary cereals. lol

Anonymous said...

Good results! Martin, what are your thoughts about a shorter eating window? 6 hours for example.

neander said...

Great results, however, I suppose muscle memory has its fair share...?

Mark said...

Great stuff Tanner. I like how your story focuses on eating when you need it (post-wo). I know I often get too wrapped up in fat loss and don't eat enough and end up either eating a ton of food or falling behind in my workouts because I have no energy/strength. How many workouts were/are you doing per week? All strength stuff, no HIIT?

Openminded said...

ok.. I need serious help. I have struggled with weight and stress related eating most of my life. I am ~48 yr old male, 5'10 250 lbs.. I have been in and out of the gym most of my life. I need and want to drop this spare tire and look good naked as well as extend my life. I know I need to relearn how to eat/train and tie the two together. I'm following the blog for a while and all y'all seem to speak the same language and I'm just not sure I get it .. I'm a pure beginner here. Can someone (Martin, etc. please give this newbie some advice on what changes to make and how to start? I know I need to get serious about getting serious

Thank you more than you know! Hanm

Tanner Maluchnik said...

@PaulSkav - thanks for the encouragement. I will be attempting to transition into a maintenance/cut phase using mostly Paleo principles so I will update on my blog eventually on how it is going.

@Jack - On high carb days I mainly tried to keep fat to under 50grams a day, however sometimes I would go up to 75-85 grams to ensure I am getting some of the fats needed.

@mamaelvis - thanks! Just went through a box of Life Maple Brown Cinnamon Sugar last night, yummy!

@neander - I agree muscle memory probably came into play too. I have read before that Eastern Europeans back in the day used to train for months and reach a new peak then take a few months off and train again to set a higher peak. Sort of felt that way with my training.

@Mark - Thanks! You just gotta find the right balance of calories to meet your goals. My goal was strength and muscle gain so my calories were up and once I found my sweet spot I just stayed within that range until I either stalled toward my goals or fat was becoming an issue. I do all strength stuff but now that I am transitioning into a maintenance phase and moved back to my hometown, I am picking back up ice hockey and roller hockey in some adult leagues for my cardio sessions as hockey was the most intense sport I have played (out of football, baseball, and hockey - Collegiate Cheerleading (was one at Penn State) is not technically a sport but it is all full-body work). I am anxious to see how my strength holds up in regards to IFing which seems to work really well for most people when cutting up.

@OpenMinded - Just continue reading up on all you can. Pick up Martin's book when it is released and also pick up Alan Aragon's Girth Control, and just about anyone of Lyle McDonald's books. Also Robb Wolf is coming out with a book on the Paleo Diet I believe. You could also trying out either of the above names mentioned for consulting though I am not sure how long their waiting list (if they have one) is.

Matt said...

Hey there, wow great stuff!!

I got a question, which might sound pretty stupid.

I'm about 173cm, (which is roughly 5'8 for our american readers) and I weight only 66 kg (145.5 lbs). The thing is, I dont have enough muscle in my opinion, but at the same time i'm not really ripped either. Only the 2 upper ABS are showing, have a little fat on the belly. I'd guesstimate my ideal weight would be like 74 kg, with less bodyfat than now. The question I have is, first of all how can I roughly measure how many kcals I need for maintenance,since I need to calculate how many kcals to eat every day in order to be able to over/undereat.

And the second question is : Should I try to gain some muscle mass first or reduce fat first and then try to gain lean weight? Or is both at the same time possible?

Tanner Maluchnik said...

@Matt - Finding maintenance is usually trial and error. If you go to my post here: http://lifedestiny.net/how-to-gain-20lbs-of-muscle-in-60-days I explain how I came to a rough estimate of my maintenance and then adjusted calories based on results and my goals.

Anonymous said...

Damn...amazing transformation in such a short period of time. Good job!

Evan said...

Quick question:

How would you guys categorize a day with a ~2hr surfing session component? Rest or Workout?

In other words, does this session elicit enough demands on the body to warrant the increased carb AND overall calorie intake?

**To describe the session itself, its definitely not cardio. There are periods of rest, and periods of sprinting. I wouldn't call it HIIT simply because the intervals arent controlled enough.

However, at the end of a good day, I can barely lift my arms (shoulders/back primarily, triceps secondary), back and legs also get a good workout (enough to feel some fatigue the next day).

Any input greatly appreciated, I've been struggling with how to plan my diet based on this variable which...obviously, isn't the most typical fitness activity.

Dave said...

Great to see someone put on so much muscle mass while performing intermittent fasting. Well done Tanner!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,

quick question. If I train around 7-8 am, every morning, is it possible to have my eating window begin after that session? Therefore, my meals would wrap up in the early afternoon and i'd have the rest of the day + sleep, to be in a fasted state.

geert said...

@ Anon,

I´ve been doin this for 4 months and it feels great.
Besides:the eating window has to be decided by u.Whatever suits u best will give u the best results.

Anonymous said...

Any chance for a review on the topic of this article Martin?


Martin Berkhan said...


"How would you guys categorize a day with a ~2hr surfing session component? Rest or Workout?"

I would classify it as long duration cardio and add some extra carbs post-activity. I wouldn't go too low on carbs that day.


You need to read the guide.


Hardly relevant unless you're highly reliant on protein shakes. Which you shouldn't be in the first place.

David said...

Hey Mark,

How tall are you and how many calories would you say you personally eat to gain weight and to lose weight?


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,

Really nice results in only 3 months, impressive!.

Off topic question:

What's your thought of doing squats/deadlifts in the morning after wake up? Is it a bigger chance for injury or is it just a myth? I know I can listen to my body, but I just want to be on the safe side.


Tanner said...

@Evan - Glad you asked that question since I will be starting up ice and roller hockey here soon, a cardio somewhat like HIIT that I will enjoy. Looking forward to it and the adjustment period in my nutrition.

@Anonymous - I have no idea where people come up with these kinds of things, magazines? I suggest to quit reading into everything and just get stuff done. Wake up and pound those squats/deadlifts.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I'm doing. I've quit reading magazines for along time ago, since it's mostly bullshit. I asked this question because I've read it at several forums of people who normally know there stuff. And like I said, I wanted to be on the safe side. Anyway thanks for your answer, appreciate that.

Evan said...

Martin - Thanks!

Tanner - Hopefully you document the adjustment on your blog, its motivating to say the least.

LayzieBone085 said...

Tanner, how many calories did you have on your bulk on Workout/Non Workout Days

And what are they now?

Any examples of good meals? i typically do 2 meals (PWO and Pre-Bed) on a bulk i would have a 1.5-2 boxes of cereal PWO :)

Clayton said...

Hi Martin and Tanner.
Great results Tanner.
A question for you both - how (if at all) could you 'supercharge' fat loss results on a leangains protocol?
BTW im in Australia and we don't have ECA/Yohimbine/etc.
Martin I'm a previous client who is coming back to the protocol and really want results fast.

Tanner said...


I usually do two meals also and a prebed protein pudding mixture of ultra peptide 2.0 and a custom blend of %80 Victoria Milk Protein Isolate (80% casein/20% whey)/%20 egg white protein.

I am all for the cereal but also like to do plain bagels with a protein sludge type spread overtop of them.

Attached are one of my workout day logs and nonworkout day logs.


Usually around 4000-4500 on workout days (depending on how my body felt) and 3500 on non-workout days. If I felt like I needed to eat more then I would. I have sort of hit a roadblock around 175 which I feel is a solid weight for my small frame.

Currently I am trying to find a solid maintenance, using paleo style guidelines again around 175 on 3000-3500 on workout days and 2700-3000 on non-workout days but am dropping a little bit of weight I feel to quickly so its an adjustment period right now and also because I have been in the process of moving and starting a new job so nutrition has been inconsistent as well as training. Current goal is to see how low I can go on weight/bf% while maintaining my strength gains from the bulk. Probably will start re-upping the calories sometime in the fall to try and build some more solid muscle. Will update once probably on my blog and also on the IF thread on BB.com.

Anonymous said...


Would you be so kind as to post your bulk-up routine?


Tanner said...

@Clayton - No shortcuts in this game but take a look at some supplements Martin recommends at http://www.leangains.com/2010/01/supplements-you-might-actually-find_09.html

@Anonymous - Sure check out my post http://lifedestiny.net/how-to-gain-20lbs-of-muscle-in-60-days

Jack said...

Tanner, mind answering a few more questions? I decided to follow your training routine and I could use some help.


Do you have to force the food down to reach 4k calories? It's an odd question, but it would help me figure some things out. On my workout days I could eat clean and go beyond 4k, but I'm staying at 3k. I don't trust my hunger. Maybe I should.

Do you think taking creatine is a must? I've been avoiding it since my skin is prone to acne breakouts and I've heard a lot of bad stories...


How do you adjust the weights when lifting? Do you start from high and then start taking plates off (reverse pyramid style)? I've tried both ways I have a problem with each: high to low - try to top off my best and end up not getting a full rep or only a few reps. Low to high - I get exhausted when I get to the last sets and can't go as heavy as I could on the first set.

Also, how often do you try to exceed your weight records? I'm guessing every time...Squat twice a week and deadlift in between. Not to mention the lunges. Ouch.

How long do you reset in between sets?

Do you squat and deadlift with a belt? I'm trying to figure out whether to get one or not since I'm almost always trying to lift more weight than in the previous training session. I don't know if there is any truth behind this, but I've heard that you can stretch out your abdominal muscles and get a permanent big belly. I must add that I am still trying to learn proper form.


I couldn't find your full daily routine. You mentioned your feeding window is only 4 hours. I'm doing something similar. Could you give me your opinion on this:

1:00 PM - BCAA + gym
3:00 PM - PWO meal
8:00 or 7:00 (if I get too hungry and can't wait) PM - casein pudding (last meal)
fast from here on

I like to stuff myself with the PWO meal, so I barely have any calories left for other meals besides the casein pudding. Although sometimes I might have another smaller meal after the PWO meal. What do you think?

Sorry for the long questions! I hope you will find time to answer those.

Tanner said...

Sometimes I had problems getting food down, especially on workout days when you would think I would be hungrier, however I believe I was hitting my nervous system pretty hard with my strength training program. Off days seemed easier to hit my cals since I was recovering and was really hungry.

If I had trouble hitting my calories I would simply make up a nice shake of say scoops of protein, TBs of peanut butter, tbs of coconut oil, oats, milk and that would bump it up a good bit.

Creatine is not a must but it is one of those supplements that has been proven for years, just stick to mono, its cheap and effective but if your having problems with acne then do what you got to do. Try creatine mono and also get some organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother,” that helped me a ton.

I adjust the weights up 10lbs whenever I feel confident I can pump out at least 4 reps. This might be before my first set or it might be mid set. If I am hitting 6-8 reps that is when I usually know I can add more pounds. I dont exactly do reverse pyramid as I usually never have to take plates off but yeah that is what I would follow if I did.

I attempt to break my previous on every set.

Barbell lunges are often overlooked by many people but I feel it is a huge exercise for building your overall body composition. They can be a bitch.

I usually rest 3 minutes between sets if my reps are around 3-5, and maybe 2:30 for higher reps around 6-8.

I do not use a lifting belt or any accessories except my iPhone for music.

My feeding window isnt always 4 hours, sometimes its 8 sometimes I do not IF at all if I am doing something social or at an activity with food.

Your routine looks fine.

Jack said...

Thanks for the informative reply and suggestions!

By the way, do you bench and squat with a spotter?

Tanner said...

@jack no problem. I usually dont use a spotter and also like working out alone without any partners. Allows me to focus on myself, the barbell, and the weights. I will only do a number of reps where its solid form and stop if i need to. Occassionaly i might be out of it and might grab someone and tell them not to touch anything unless i am desperately struggling which has not happened. Some could say i am not pushing myself hard enough but i feel i know my body better than anyone else.

Clayton said...

Tanner - thanks for your response. Understood there are no 'short cuts' indeed. I thought you or Martin my have stumbled across a few tweaks to the protocol that really fired up the fat loss. E.g. Longer fasts, macronutrient variations, training variations, etc.

Jack said...

Thanks again. You're a real inspiration.

How do you do reverse v-bar dips? What does it target? Also, the regular dips on day 3 are done on parallel bars?

Matt said...

A question for Martin. You mentioned you did 20 rep breathing squats back in the day.

I'm looking to do the same, to give my 6 week IF bulk a proper finish. How did you incorporate them into your training regimen? Did you just do them on the day you usually did squats or did you go all out, doing them every workout (say, 3 times a week, Mon/Wed/Fri). Also, how did you find they worked together with the deadlift, since high rep squats can be taxing on the lower back and it can take quite some time to recover?

Sorry for the long post ^^;

Steve said...

I echo the praise for barbell lunges, they're a great compound exercise. When you start getting heavy enough, they do a number on the abs, too. Rep range is high, though. I go back and forth across the gym floor for each set. Anyone have any metric for what your lunge weight should be in relation to what you would squat for ~8 reps?

Martin Berkhan said...


Read this:


Matt said...

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

I started it with the bench/pushups/chins session today and it was brutal indeed! My tri's were toast after the first bench/pushup combo.

But I thoroughly enjoyed it, probably due to some underlying masochistic tendency I wasn't aware of lol

At least I learned to put some paper towels on the floor where I could rest my face when I collapse after the last set of pushups.

The casual gym-rats were no doubt thinking 'WTF is wrong with that guy?'

Mike Watson. said...

How does everyone take these powdered BCAA supplements anyway? I just recently picked up a container and a straight mix within water separates and has the worst tasting substance I've ever consumed. Is it kosher to drink with something? I can't imagine anyone just slamming it straight without fighting back the urge to vomit.

Tanner said...

@Mike Watson - I usually just mix it up with something like Crystal Light to mask the taste..SOmetimes just straight and your right its tough to take down but gotta do what you gotta do. Try mixing it up with Crystal Light it usually masks it pretty well depending on how much you put in.

Sean said...

@Mike Watson here is how I eat the BCAA powder: take an entire scoopful (either 4g or 5g depending on brand) and shovel it into my mouth. Then wash it down with a gulp or two of water. Repeat 2-3x until you've eaten 10g. Sure, it tastes bad for a second but the taste goes away extremely quickly.

The first few days I took BCAA, I also tried mixing it up with water...tasted absolutely horrible. However, as many kinds of artificial sweeteners give me problems (headaches/digestive stuff) I've found that simply "shotgunning" BCAA this way works best. I have been doing it via this method for months now. (Originally "discovered" the method via Internet search; it is the "secret" of someone who says he was a D1 college athlete.)

Rich Pinnell said...

Usually I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this article really forced me to do so! Thanks, really nice article.

Anonymous said...

Martin, I'd like you ask you a question if you are still reading these comments.

You say you gained 20lb during your 3 month bulk, at a ratio of 2:1 muscle to fat. This works out to 2kg/muscle gained per month. Does that mean you disagree with the generally accepted that the maximum muscle you can gain in a month is about 1kg?

Or do you think that using IF improved your partitioning which allowed you to gain so much?


Anonymous said...

would this approach be appropriate for teenagers too? like 16 year olds?

does training while fasting means no calories eaten during the day or just like no calories eaten within a 3 hours span.

Al said...

PaulSkav - I totally agree with your comment that this doesn't prove anything about the IF protocol being the reason for such an impressive transformation.

As Tanner said, he picked up weights after a long time and also gains fairly quickly anyway. Also some of that weight will definitely be fuller muscle cells from having more water and glycogen within them. Especially since he was on a low carb diet before. Creatine will have helped with that too.

It's a superb transformation none the less, Tanner. Your strength gains have been awesome as has has your body transformation. Not taking anything away from that at all.

I still feel that IF isn't the best option for a bulk if you want optimal protein synthesis and muscle anabolism but that's a debate that will probably endure the end of time. I'm sure you're real happy with the muscle you gained as well as keeping it fairly lean :) Keep up the good work.

Christopher said...

Very impressive. Martin I'm 47 years old and am in good shape now, but am starting IF to drop BF. have you ever written articles for men my age? Thx

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

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