Tuesday, September 27, 2011



Dear readers, it is with troublesome news I break my three months of silence.

The statistics all point towards the same conclusion: we have a global outbreak of fuckarounditis.

Fuckarounditis is a behavioral disorder characterized by a mediocre physique and complete lack of progress, despite significant amounts of time spent in the gym. 
Fuckarounditis most commonly manifests itself as an intense preoccupation with crunches, curls, cable movements, belts, gloves, balance boards, Swiss Balls and Tyler Durden. Fear of squats and deadlifts is another distinguishing trait. Physical exertion is either completely lacking or misapplied (towards questionable or unproductive training practices). 
Despite an alarming increase of fuckarounditis in recent years, prevalance may vary greatly depending on location. However, in most commercial gyms, it has been estimated that 90-100% of individuals are afflicted to varying degrees. 
Environment and social networks are crucial factors for triggering the disease. It has been proposed that the roots of the disease stems from misinformation and counterproductive training advice found in popular media ("fitness magazines") and information hubs on the Internet.  
Human nature and the so-called "laziness", "magic bullet" and "complacency" genes plays a permissive role for allowing the disease to take hold.
The disease spreads rapidly, as carriers of the disease communicate with other individuals in locker rooms, Internet discussion forums and other arenas of interaction and information exchange in real life or otherwise.   
The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood and may go undiagnosed for a lifetime. Diagnosis is set by a professional and based on observed behaviors and physique progress.  
Symptoms, preventative measures and intervention strategies are reviewed and discussed. 

- Berkhan, M. (2011) "Targeting The Fuckarounditis Epidemic: Preventative Measures and Intervention Strategies." 

Fuckarounditis: A Serious Threat 

I have been trying to cure people of fuckarounditis since the late 90's, starting from the day I was first cleansed from it myself. Ever since I recognized the disease, I have acknowledged it as a serious threat to physique development and mental well-being. It is therefore with shock and horror I have watched an increasing number of people fall victim to the disease and the dubious training practices it inspires.

In educating myself of good strength training practices, I was very lucky. Yes, I wasted some time with the usual bench'n'curl/bodybuilding magazine-inspired crapola all my friends were doing, spending my time in the gym joking around more than doing any actual training. I was 16 or so when I first set my foot at the gym. (See "My Transformation" for pictures from this time period.)

However, I did not spend more than a few months fooling around with my friends. I found that I enjoyed strength training, so I started to take an increasing interest in the topic. I started to explore and I eventually came across an excellent resource that set the tone for my entire approach and attitude. The resource was the book Beyond Brawn by Stuart McRobert, and it taught me the value of working hard at the right things.

However, I may have never been lucky enough to find this tome of wisdom if I had first lost myself in the malicious maze that resides behind...the illusion of complexity.

The Illusion of Complexity

The Internet provides a rich soil for fuckarounditis to grow and take hold of the unsuspecting observer. Too much information, shit, clutter, woo-woo, noise, bullshit, loony toon theories, too many quacks, morons and people with good intentions giving you bad advice and uninformed answers. Ah yes, the information age.

Some of it is bullshit wrapped up in a fancy paper with scientific terms, elaborate detail, promising cutting edge strategies based on the latest research. This makes it easier to swallow for intellectuals and those seeking a quick fix; two different groups, both equally susceptible to bullshittery and easy prey for scam artists.

Yes, if anything has surprised me so far in my work, it's the complete disassociation between IQ and "exercise intelligence" (essentially common sense and knowledge in regards to training fundamentals). I have many clients from academic circles, many clients that are very successful financially and in their each respective field, but some were complete idiots with regards to their training before they came to me.

The problem at the core of the fuckarounditis epidemic is the overabundance of information we have available to us. If there are so many theories, articles and opinions on a topic, we perceive it as something complex, something hard to understand. An illusion of complexity is created.

We must read everything. Think long and hard about our choices. Only then can we hope to make an informed choice, we reason. And there are so many choices. Finally, that which we perceive as a good and informed choice is often the complete opposite, usually the result of whatever fad routine is trendy at the moment. Sometimes we do a little bit of everything - "can't be bad trying to be 'well-rounded' now, can it?" we foolishly argue.

When it comes to strength training, the right choices are limited and uncomplicated. There are right and wrong ways to do things, not "it depends", not alternative theories based on new science that we need to investigate or try. Basic do's and don't's that never change. Unfortunately, these fundamental training principles are lost to many, and stumbling over them is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Isn't it the same with nutrition? Do we have diet-related fuckarounditis? Sure enough, there's diet-related fuckarounditis; people who live in the fear of insulin faeries, avoid carbs like the plague for a few days and then binge the hell out of a few boxes of cereal, and never manage to get lean, for example.

However, in contrast to training-related fuckarounditis, rates of diet-related fuckarounditis have remained fairly stable. The lipophobes have merely been replaced by carbophobes. On the whole, I might even venture to say that people have been getting a bit smarter with regards to nutrition. Not so with training practices, unfortunately.

Yes, the global prevalence of fuckarounditis is increasing at an alarming rate. The plethora of bad choices increases at a much higher rate than the good choices. Soon the bad choices will all but drown out the good ones, I fear.

"I See Weak People"

In my dreams? No. In gyms? Yes. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're weak.

The afflicted are everywhere; the Shape Magazine-reading receptionist who greets you at the gym, the 135-lb skinny-fat PT who tells you that deadlifts are off limits, the bandana wearing bro in the cable-cross machine and the guy with entire day devoted to "abs". All of them suffer to varying degrees of the debilitating disorder known as fuckarounditis. Yes, even you might be among the afflicted. Today you shall find out if there is cause for alarm.

Keep in mind that this is a disease that sneaks up on you and then progresses gradually. Some people walk around with a mild case of fuckarounditis that do not completely impair their results in its initial stages. In others, the disease has reached a severe state, which dramatically interferes with their progress and usually stalls it completely.

Finally, there are those who are all but lost and for whom there is little hope of a cure. Unfortunately, these people will probably never read this. They are too busy emulating the latest bodybuilding pro, doing the Biceps Blaster routine, or rolling around on a Swiss Ball somewhere.

How can you tell if you are suffering from the fuckarounditis? Ultimately, it boils down to your results and whether your progress is reasonable relative to the time you put in.

Let's be concrete and talk numbers. After all, there needs to be some overarching and objective way of judging whether you are afflicted or not.

Progress and Goals

For someone interested in aesthetics, which I assume most my readers are, relative strength is the single best measure of progress and the quality of your physique. Before seeing a picture of a client, I can easily get a very good idea of his or hers body composition by simply knowing three stats: weight, height and strength. Relative strength is therefore the parameter that will be used to determine reasonable rates of progress, which will then tell you whether you might be suffering of  fuckarounditis or not.

Within two years of consistent training on a decent routine, the average male should be able to progress to the following levels of strength (1RM):

Strength Goals: Intermediate

Bench press: body weight x 1.2

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.2 or 8 reps with body weight.

Squat: body weight x 1.6

Deadlift: body weight x 2

These numbers are for a raw (no straps, belt or knee wraps) single repetition.

The progress towards the intermediate strength goals should be fairly linear, meaning that there should be no plateaus that cannot be solved in an uncomplicated manner. By "consistent" training I do not mean never missing a training day, nor do I consider taking 2-3 months off from training consistent.

By "decent training routine", I mean "not doing blatantly stupid shit" (training 5-6 days/week, 20-25 sets for chest and arms, etc.). I do not mean optimal and flawless.

Strength Goals: Advanced 

Under the exact same conditions as the previous example, 3 out of 4 of the following goals should be reached within five years, along with all of the strength goals listed under "intermediate":

Bench press: body weight x 1.5

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.5 or 15 reps with body weight.

Squat: body weight x 2

Deadlift: body weight x 2.5

Strength Goals: Highly Advanced 

Under the exact same conditions, all of the following goals should be reached within ten years. Alternatively, 3 out of 4 should be reached, and one should be "Elite":

Bench press: body weight x 1.5, or x 1.8 (elite)

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.5 or 15 reps with body weight, or x 1.8 / 20 reps (elite)

Squat: body weight x 2, or x 2.4 (elite)

Deadlift: body weight x 2.5, or x 3 (elite)

"Elite" denotes one lift that is often ahead of the others. For example, people who are natural pullers (long arms) may very well hit a 3 x body weight deadlift before a 1.5 x body weight bench, and vice versa for the presser (short arms, stocky and barrel-chested) benching 1.8 x body weight but not being able to pull 2.5 x body weight in the deadlift.

The highly advanced strength goals falls in line with what could be considered the pinnacle of physique and strength development for most average and natural trainers. At this point, progress is very slow.

A 185-lb male that has been training consistently for 5-10 years should therefore be expected to:

Bench press 275-280 lbs.
Do a chin-up with 90-95 lbs hanging from his waist.
Squat 370 lbs.
Deadlift 460-465 lbs.

Respective goals for women:

For women in the 115-155-lb range, the corresponding advanced strength goals are 0.9 x body weight bench, 1.1 x body weight chin-up, 1.5 x body weight squat and 1.8 x body weight deadlift. Relative to men, women have much less muscle mass around the chest area and shoulder girdle (men have much higher androgen-receptor density in this particular area), but the lower body is comparativly strong to the upper body.

A 135-lb woman that has been training consistently for 5-10 years should then be expected to:

Bench press 120-125 lbs.
Do 4-5 chin-ups with body weight or do one with an extra 10-15 lbs hanging from her waist.
Squat 200-205 lbs.
Deadlift 225-230 lbs.

So where do you fall in regards to these goals? If you've met them, you've received a reasonable return on the time you've invested in your training and it's safe to say that you do not suffer from fuckarounditis - even if you have some of the symptoms, remember that it's not fucking around if what you're doing is working for you.

If you have not met them, then something is amiss. And if you can't do 8 good chin-ups or struggle with being able to bench press your body weight after a decade of working out....something is horribly amiss.

This is no laughing matter. I've had clients that spent 10-15 years working out with little or nothing to show for it and some made very basic mistakes that could have been fixed at an early stage. But as fuckarounditis took root, they seemed to only have succumbed deeper, eventually losing that last shred of training sense.

Taking early preventative measures is key. Where this is not possible, rapid intervention can save the situation. Enter The Fuckarounditis Test.

The Fuckarounditis Test

Please review these 25 common symptoms and behaviors associated with fuckarounditis. If you recognize yourself in any of these, and have not met the strength standards recently discussed, you must immediately cease the behavior and implement the necessary changes. There is no time to waste.

1. You don't keep track.

How much can you bench, squat and deadlift? How many chin-ups? You need to be able to answer those questions right now. Don't let me hear "I THINK I can" or "I'm not sure but...". You need to know how much weight you can maximally lift in one set when you're fresh.

Whether it's a set of 1, 4 ,6 or 8 reps doesn't matter. You need to have concrete reference points in order to evaluate your progress. Keep track of them in a training log. Not "in your head", write it down. The single act of writing it down is more important than you think, whether you keep those data points in a notebook, on your computer or on Post-It notes like me.

With tracking comes the motivation to train, the results and everything else. I can't even imagine where people get their motivation from if they don't keep track and just choose weights at random based on whatever feels good that day.

You should at all times be aware of the best performance in a few key lifts, your body weight and the conditions under which those sets were performed.

More on tracking progress and "checkpoints" in "How to Look Awesome Every Day".

When I recently evaluated client and American poker pro Phil Galfond's progress after his first month on my training routine, I was pleased to see his bench jump from his old personal best of 225 lbs x 4 to 225 lbs x 8 - and he's dieting. Phil says "The 4 to 8 rep jump is actually bigger than it sounds, since my 4 reps were done with terrible form, bouncing the weight as hard as I could, and the 8 reps were done very controlled." That's outstanding progress, but in order to spot it, you need to keep track. 

2. You are not methodical.

The only thing that should be changing from week to week is the load on the bar or the reps with the same load you used last time. If you're doing it right, these should be increasing. Everything else stays the same; the movements and the order you did them in, the sets and the rest periods in between sets. You don't add in new stuff.

This is the only way you can fairly evaluate your progress and see if you're headed in the right direction. It might sound tedious to keep doing the same movements every week and the appeal of "mixing it up" can seem strong.

However, the tediousness will soon be replaced by the much stronger joy you get from seeing your lifts go up on a weekly basis. Don't fall for "muscle confusion" bullshit. The only ones confused are the people who keep talking about such nonsense.

Mixing together too much shit and being methodical about the process was one of the fuckarounditis symptoms that plagued social media expert Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents, before I set him straight. Here's what I told him back when he asked me to comment on his "routine" before we started working together:

...Summing it up, I suspect that your laughable progress can be explained by the following: 
1. Your bullshit training routine, which is a haphazard mixture of strength and conditioning. Some people get decent results from CrossFit and the like, but it spells death for hardgainers like yourself. If we work together you will stop flopping around like a fool and start lifting heavy, with plenty of rest in between sets. 
2. Not tracking progress, be that in some key movements like chins, bench press, etc, or benchmark CrossFit-sessions (which I use regularly for CF clients). Training whatever feels good for the moment is one of the worst ways possible to make progress, not to mention serious progress. It's such a fucking waste of time that I was completely horrified of how you approached it all. That's going to change if we work together.
He has since then gained muscle, added more than a hundred pounds to the main lifts, and has not gained an iota of body fat. I cured him with lots of food and a simple regimen of basic movements done consistently on a weekly basis.

3. You don't plan for progress.

Never choose training weights at random. You look at what you used last session and make the choice based solely on that. Not on your ego. Not because you feel like trying higher or lower reps for shits and giggles.

There many good progression models but I will recommend two common models that I use depending on the situation.

Beginners and people who need a "reboot", i.e. they may have training experience but have been fucking around so much they're essentially at the beginner stage (e.g., I used a slightly modified SS routine for Julien), Starting Strength is an excellent model.

This is a very simple 3x/week-program with frequent training and practice of the Big Three (bench, squat and deadlift), starting at 1-3 sets of 5. Example:

Squat: 200 x 5 x 3.

When you can complete 3 sets of 5 reps with 200 lbs, resting 5 minutes between each set, increase the weight next session. The training load starts at your 7-8RM, which means that you do not go to failure initially.

For experienced trainers, I recommend the double progression model of reverse pyramid training. This is what built most of my physique and it's also by far the most common approach I use with clients. Example:

Squat: 200 x 6-8 x 2.

Set 1: 200 x 8
Rest 3-5 mins. Reduce the load by 10% for the second set.
Set 2: 180 x 8 (however many reps you can get)

When the highest number in the interval (6-8) is reached ("8" in this case), increase the weight by 2.5% or 5 lbs the next session. Thus in the above example, you would use 205 and 185 lbs for your sets the next time. All sets are to be performed with maximal effort and movements are only done once a week (3x/week training frequency). "Double progression" means that you progress both in reps and load; first you hit the reps you need, then you increase the load.

RPT is very time-efficient. It's also far superior to anything else I've tried for strength/muscle retention/muscle gain during a diet.

4. You're doing too much shit.

Be a minimalist, like me.

I snapped this yesterday and stay in this condition all year round. 

I built my physique with these movements primarily: squats, deadlifts, bench presses, chin-ups, triceps extensions and calf raises. These have remained staples throughout the years. I have flirted with other movements, but these were brief periods.

On the whole, that's one movement per muscle group, with the exception of abs and biceps, which I never really trained except for early in my training career, and then very sporadically every once in a while.

The point is that most people are doing too much shit. This dilutes the focus and effort that they are able to put into that which really delivers.

5. You think more about supplements than squats.

No single factor in strength training receives so much attention, yet deliver so little in return. Don't play the fool who chases magic pills, thinking it will compensate for a lack of effort, a fundamentally flawed training routine or a poor diet.

There are supplements that you might actually find useful, but they won't turn the tide if what you're doing right now is not working without them.

6. You're lifting weights for the calorie burn.

Strength is strength. Cardio is cardio. Don't mix, keep them separate, and use cardio sparingly on a diet or if your primary goal is strength and muscle gain.

If you're adding 2-3 sessions of HIIT to your 3 sessions of weights, it is almost comparable to adding 2-3 days of weights. Keyword is "almost", I'm obviously not drawing direct comparisons. That's all fine and dandy if you think working out 5-6 days/week is a good idea on a diet. But I don't think anyone - no matter what level of experience - needs more than 3 days a week in the gym when cutting. (Yes, this goes for competitors and beginners alike.)
In conclusion, if conditioning is not terribly important for you, if your goal is really about getting shredded while keeping your muscle, I highly suggest limiting moderate to high intensity cardio on a diet - or ditch it completely. Save it for some other time when your recovery is good and not limited by your diet.

A calorie deficit is a recovery deficit. Avoid deficit spending.

My full answer here.

Rickard Nikoley is one of those I saved from fuckarounditis. Before I intervened, Richard was flopping around like a monkey in the gym. Nothing good came from that. There's nothing primal or Paleo about being weak. I cured him with squats, bench presses, deadlifts and proper rest periods. That way he could put up the effort when it counted.

7. You're looking a bit too happy in there.

If you're not grimacing, grunting, or experiencing some sort of discomfort, you're not training hard enough. One good set where you have to fight for the reps is better than a week of half-ass sets.

8. You spend more than 5 minutes on abs.

If you can't see your abs, you need to unfatten yourself. Simple as that. You can't spot reduce and you'll get plenty of ab work with squats, deadlifts, chin-ups and overhead presses. Let me see someone at 5-6% body fat deadlift 2.5-3 x body weight for reps with with weak abs and underdeveloped abs. It ain't happening.

I'll allow you one set of "abs". Beyond that don't waste your time with crunches, ab machines, hanging leg raises or whatever the hell you're doing. It won't give you shit and it will only suck time and energy from what you should be doing.

9. Is this you?

10. You're afraid of "bulky muscles" and use terms like "toning."

Women, you need to put down those pink dumbbells, throw that Shape Magazine in the trash can and stop with this nonsense. You seem to believe that the modest amount of strain will cause you to wake up looking like a bodybuilder in the morning. Horseshit. You're not using enough drugs to ever come close to looking muscle bound. With the training intensity I see most women apply in the gym, they might as well skip weight training altogether and stay on the treadmill.

Jenn has actually gotten stronger since she shot that video; she's now up to 27.5 lbs added weight. That's more than 99% of the guys at my gym...and I bet it's more than many male readers of this site as well. Her routine?

Day 1 (Monday)

5-min walk for warm-up.
Deadlift 2-3 sets of 4-5 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins.
Leg extensions - Same setup as deadlifts, but reps a bit higher (6-8).
Rest 5-10 mins.
Chins - Same as deads.

Day 3 (Wednesday)

5-min walk for warm-up.
Bench press 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins
Pull-ups 2-3 sets with body weight.
Rest 5-10 mins

Day 5 (Friday)

Squats 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins.
Walking lunges 2-3 sets same as squats.
Rest 5-10 mins.

Overhead Press 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins

That's the routine Jenn was doing when she sent me the video and the one she gained all that strength on. This is a solid routine, regardless of gender, and it's vastly superior to what you're doing if you're in the fuckarounditis camp. Why not try it and see for yourself? Throw in a set or two of curls, triceps and calves if you want but don't mess with it beyond that. 

11. You're "training the core"...and it involves a Swiss Ball, Bosu Ball or something else that makes you look like an idiot.

"Training the core" is a phrase that is all too often used by people who are afraid to squat. You don't need special movements for the core, because it comes with the territory if you squat, deadlift, press and chin. No one squats 2 x body weight with a weak core.

12. You want that Tyler Durden look.

Whenever I hear a client say this, alarm bells go off. There's nothing wrong in having ideals. The problem is all the pain I feel after seeing the dumb shit that follows in the questionnaire, under the part where I ask them about their current training routine. I'll often see some horrifying cardio/pump'n'tone hybrid, some celebrity workout variety or the kind you'd expect to see in those kind of routines. Nothing more faddish than made-up "celebrity workouts". God damn, how I hate those.

Want to look like Tyler Durden? Then you need to build up some modest amount of muscle and then you need to lose fat, period. The muscle is best built with heavy weight training, not 15-25-rep set flyes followed by an hour in the pec deck machine. Your gut is best lost with a good diet, not "fat burning workouts"/tons of cardio/pump'n'tone crapola. All those will do is leave you under-muscled, weak and with a severe case of fuckarounditis.

The Tyler Durden look, brought to you by squats, deadlifts, bench, chin-ups and a good diet. When this client told me that he was "closing in on his goal" of achieving a physique similar to that of Brad Pitt, AKA Tyler Durden in "Fight Club", I told him to gain some fat, start smoking, get into a fight, and stop training his arms and shoulders. (The implication of that being that he had already surpassed his goal.)

13. You're using belts, gloves and straps for no good reason.

What is your reason exactly? Don't use equipment as a crutch.

14. You avoid squats and deadlift, because you think they'll give you a wide waist.

Bitch please. Yes, squats and deadlifts will put muscle on your obliques and thicken up your lower back. But weighted chin-ups or pull-ups will give you wider lats, and if you train all these movements, your waist-to-shoulder ratio will develop very favorably. Training all these movements will also help you grow some balls, so you can finally stop making up bullshit excuses for why you shouldn't train hard (AKA squat and deadlift).

Petter, the Tyler Durden lookalike, was squatting and deadlifting regularly on my routine. Last time I checked,  he was squatting 2 x body weight (300 lbs) for 9 reps. He was also close to being able to complete a one-arm pull-up. Does it look like he has a wide waist? Are my clients notable for their wide waists? Take your "wide waist"-argument/excuse and shove it up your ass right now.

What's funny is that this argument is usually brought up by guys who want a "Hollywood"/underwear model type physique. They're often a) dieting, b) not training legs and c) likely doing tons of cardio. That particular combination will strip off whatever little leg muscle they have faster than Gary Busey can do a gram of coke off his dog Chili's back. It leaves them looking pathetic and weak, and if that sounds good to you then go ahead.

15. Doing this?

16. Are you still warming up? I can't tell.

A warm-up is a warm-up. Treat it as such. It should be light, just enough to get the blood flowing and prepare the nervous system for the real stuff. It should never cause fatigue or interfere with your performance in the work sets. All the time, I see people doing sets of 10-15 reps before they get to something that remotely resembles their real set. Which is completely retarded, because you will be fatigued and glycogen-depleted, and your performance in the work sets will be limited for metabolic reasons, and not limited by your actual strength.

The only standing recommendation I have regarding warm-ups is for compound movements: 1-3 sets of 4-6 reps of 40%-80% of target weight for the first work set. Warm-ups for assistance movements is whatever you feel is needed. Personally, I only warm up for squats, deadlift, bench press and chins. If you do these at the start of your workout, which you should, you'll find that they usually get your whole body warmed up, which makes warm-ups redundant or entirely unnecessary for the rest of the workout.

17. Are you still warming up? I can't tell. What's that? You're already done and I can take the bench?

Let's see some fucking effort next time. Don't take up precious space here when you can get a better workout from walking your dog through the park outside.

You can be doing everything perfectly, but you will not go anywhere if you're not willing to experience discomfort on a regular basis. If you're in the gym 5-6 days a week, lack of effort might actually be the explanation for your lack of progress. If you were actually in there training hard, most people wouldn't be coming back for more 5-6 days a week.

18. Was this you?

Learn good form early, so you don't have to pay for it with injuries and shitty results later down the road. Don't let your ego screw you and don't slap on weight indiscriminately. Be methodical and patient.

No need to be a form nazi either. People who "practice" form in all eternity are sometimes just afraid to train hard. Striving for picture perfect form on your final reps can be counterproductive when taken to the extreme.

19. Your workout buddy gets a set of barbell rows on the house when he "spots" you benching.

Tell him to keep his fingers off the damn bar and assist you as little as possible and only when it's truly needed; meaning only if you are about to fail on the very last rep in the set. Don't be one of those clowns slapping on twice of what they could lift by themselves to stroke their ego. It looks pathetic and it will make it impossible for you to properly evaluate your progress.

And for me, an unwanted spotter can make it hard to evaluate the progress of the client, like I had to explain to this actor/client:

I am your trainer, the guy who follows you around is only there to make sure your form is not completely retarded. His function right now should be redundant. I assume you know how to perform most movements well by now. If he interferes with your sets, he is counterproductive to the outcome.  
You're my only client right now with a personal trainer on top of the help you receive from me. I imagine he is eager to "correct" your form and tinker with your training in any way he can in order to not feel useless. Make sure he stays out of it beyond spotting you on some sets where it's warranted (i.e. when and if you are about to fail). Some PTs can't even get that part right and goes way overboard with the helping part.  
This is another danger of having him around, as it gets impossible for me to measure your progress (strength gains) accurately (i.e. did you gain strength since the last session or did he just help you more this time?). Make it very clear to him when and how he should help (last rep you can't complete by yourself).
This actor played a key role in an award winning and Oscar-nominated movie last year. I'm preparing him for a new movie with some very big names that start shooting early next year. I can't tell you more beyond that, but rest assured that his "celebrity workout" does not include mickey mouse curls supersetted with cable flyes, or anything of the usual variety you read about in magazines.

20. You obsess about "tempo".

Forget about tempo. Tempo takes care of itself if you're working with heavy weights (80% 1RM / 8 reps or less), because your control over the load is very limited. Lift the damn weight, repeat, it's that simple. Don't overthink it.

Tempo was hot stuff a few years ago and frequently discusses in articles an on the boards. It seems to have slipped off the radar now. Why? Because it's yet another distraction from the important stuff.

21. You're into "functional" training.

But you can't squat body weight and your "functional" muscle mass is non-existent. Unless you're an athlete with a very good reason, stay the hell away from anything that involves Swiss Balls, balance boards or pogo sticks.

22. You're the guy who sent me these two direct messages 5 minutes after I tweeted this:

do you think 8x20 abs is enough ?? i do hanging superstrict..really feel working lower abs!!. also i need bcaa if i situps in fasted state??
also how much bcaa u recommend

23. You're working on your "lagging biceps", but you can't even do 8 chin-ups with good form.

First of all, you're weak and fat. Second of all, body part specialization has its place, but it's always the ones least qualified that are doing it. Worry about body part specialization after you achieve the major goalposts involving the muscle group that lags behind. Until then, body part specialization is a distraction that will interfere with your development as a whole.

Let's see if your chest and your shoulders are lagging once you can bench 1.5 x body weight or overhead press your body weight and if your legs and back are lagging with a 2 x body weight squat and 2.5 x body weight deadlift. Keep doing targeted work for muscle groups like triceps, hams and calves.

Yes, you can keep a few sets of curls in there, but 2-3 sets is enough for now. Do you really think your guns will be lagging once you're doing chin-ups with 100 lbs hanging from your waist? My clients have told me they saw more biceps growth from the increased focus on weighted chin-ups than any amount of curls they did in the past. I never spent any time on curls and they grew just fine from all those chin-ups. I can say for damn sure you'll put on a good deal of size on your arms if you add 50 lbs to whatever you can chin-up right now.

Ask Paul Wilson and his 8 reps with 110 lbs of solid chin-up mastery:

Paul flexing in exclusive LG Gear, only available as an award for excellency and strength.

24. You think ripped abs will get you laid.

I hate to bust your bubble lil' buddy, but women don't give a shit beyond a guy looking reasonably fit. Lower than 10-12% body fat won't make an ounce of a difference. If women is your main motivation for dieting, don't bother getting shredded. Women have similar delusions in terms of thinking men like them super-skinny.

Training to be liked by others is a very poor motivational factor in itself. You need internal motivation, not external. No one that ends up making something out of his or hers physique, something impressive and head-turning, gets there by training to get liked by others. It might have started out as such, but it changes. I think this quote sums up why and how we make it:

You have to discipline yourself, and through this discipline will come some level of achievement, and from this achievement will come your pride.
- David Lee Roth.

And then there's the fact that nothing beats the feeling you get from breaking a new personal record. Some of the happiest moments I remember are from walking home after a new 20-rep squat record way back in the days. Walking up stairs was like being repeatedly stabbed with a blunt and rusty butterknife. But it was still pure bliss.

25. You have all kinds of elaborate excuses for why you don't need to squat and deadlift.

You get your leg training from playing soccer, you're afraid you might hurt your back, you read somewhere that single-leg training is better, you talk about rear-foot elevated split squats with a 45-degree twist during the concentric being the future of leg training, etc. Horseshit, all of it.

Listen carefully. Squats and deadlifts are undisputably the two best full body movements in the god damn Universe and that's reason enough to be doing them.

But that's not the whole story. Their true greatness lies in the mental fortitude they foster if you train them hard and consistently. This will benefit your training as a whole and leave echoes in your life outside the gym.

Did I miss something? Well, I actually left a few signs and symptoms out because this article was getting way too long for my own good and it feels like my eyes are bleeding right now. I thought I'd leave it up to you to finish it.

The #Fuckarounditis Contest

You need to do three things if you want to be eligible for participation in the contest:

1. Follow me on Twitter.

2. Tweet or retweet this article.

3. Send me your best/funniest/most original fuckarounditis symptom in 140 signs by using a hashtag followed by fuckarounditis, like this: #fuckarounditis (so it'll actually be less than 125 signs not counting #fuckarounditis). That way I can click the hashtag and see all contributions.

The contest will be running from today until the end of October (ends Oct 31st). After the end of the contest, I'll pick 5-10 winners that each will receive $100 by PayPal. That's five, ten or any number of winners in between, I'll just pick whatever great contributions I get. I'll announce the winners shortly thereafter and they will be added to this article.

Important: Don't PM/email/write your contribution in comments. I already get too many emails and PMs to keep up and I want to keep all contributions in one place: on Twitter. So you make your contribution by: (text goes here) #fuckarounditis. I'll be retweeting good ones on a daily basis. When I choose the winners I'll go through my retweets and pick 5-10 winners.


Andy Morgan said...

Buddy, I've been laughing out loud reading this in a packed Starbucks in Osaka and everyone has been looking at me like I'm a mad man.

Enrique said...

Awesome, Martin. Just awesome. Laughed my ass off. Thought a bit. Been guilty of #6 and #24.

HOWEVER I will contend 1 point:

"14. You avoid squats and deadlift, because you think they'll give you a thick waist."

I'm a deadlift lover myself, but it DOES thicken the waist and hips. Not quite like a wrestler; that takes years and some pharmaceutical help. It definitely widens the shoulders and lats but obliques stick out. Rusty Moore dropped them years ago after gaining a ton of mass, and recommends his readers to drop them once they reach the desired amount of muscle in the areas squats and deadliest develop. I sort of agree. Squats and reads are great, but the result from going to the absolute max with them (500-800 lbs after years and years of training) is a big butt and thick trunk. Reminds me of one interview Gerard Butler did for the movie "300". After being put on a regiment that included heavy squats, he commented that he was starting to develop "J-Lo Ass".

And there it is. Besides that point, keep rocking' Martin.

Clint - Crude Fitness said...

Nice post Martin - might be your best yet.
I've posted many articles on 'gym douche-bags' - a lot of the symptoms can be attributed to fuckarounditis :)

Hugo said...

I have the 12# sindrome!! That was a nice reading! Thank you, Martin! Grettings from Brazil!

Ted said...

stay the hell away from anything that involves Swiss Balls, balance boards and pogo sticks


quite possibly the greatest thing on teh Internetz.

might actually be the greatest thing ever written in the history of mankind now that I think about it.

thanks Martin...keep doing what you do because it's awesome.

Nils said...

Still have some issues with bench and squat, it's a bit dangerous when there is no spotter. Is there any good way to avoid injury when you might not be able to complete that last rep?

On another note, here is a nice segment from the Daily Show on a studio that doesn't allow bodybuilders:


nice. except once you reach highly advanced / elite, time to start pushing toward elite cardio fitness or else you're probably just fucking around too much

BodyEvolution said...

Martin, that certainly was worth the wait. Was the gold LMFAO!

John said...

Wow that was an awesome, informative and fantasticly funny read! I'm gonna show my crunches and curls obsessed friends this;)

GoBears said...

Awesome post!

Doing reverse pyramid pull ups and benchpresses, and I have made incredible gains in just 2 months.
Already well past the intermediate goals.

I would love to do squats and deadlifts, but I have 2 broken discs in my back that were operated on.

My doctor advised against such lifts. Any alternatives?

Mike N said...

In old, but related news.


amanwithaplan said...


I owe you my life. Seriously.

Martin Bernardino said...

God, right on with the deadpan humor.

You would have made a great behavioral therapist if you weren't a trainer. Things like point number 24, your marshmallow article, & your addictive personality article have shown me just how much more you have to offer to your clients than most other trainers.


minsc said...


Anonymous said...

Martin, what would the suggestion be for someone who would like to squat and deadlift a lot more but is a novice at those lifts, worried about form/not doing it correctly?

Anonymous said...

Funny but sadly true article.

I agree with all the points with the exception of 23. For me chins(and bench) have done jack shit for arms: 1.5xbw x6reps and arms are only 14.5"

Mike said...

What a great read. Don't wait so long next time.

Q: What do you think of the olympic lifts? I guess you don't do them. Why not?

Ed said...

Martin, I've just discovered your blog last week and just went into IF on Monday. Loving IF so far and loving this post - thanks and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

@Mike: Good for olympic lifters. Not really great for strength/size otherwise due to them being an explosive strength/power exercise and having a very small eccentric component.

Yannis said...

Martin , what about the olympic lifts? good question. do you do them?

Chrismagic said...

Wow, I may go against all I stand for and create a twitter account just to participate in this

Anonymous said...

You were gone for a long time, but with this article you have TOTALLY REDEEMED YOURSELF! Probably your best article to date!

Contemplationist said...


Great post! I shared it on FB. I know you're not a physio and you are thousands of miles away masquerading as pixels on a screen, but, I injured my lower back in August from going too gung-ho on the Deadlift.

I was 140 pounds then
(Male, mid 20s, 5' 11") and though my chin-ups were progressing great, the DL and Squats were plateauing (225 lbs and 150 lbs respectively). It was one of those days when you don't feel a 100%, but I was stupid and pushed myself on the DL and I think I pinched my lower back nerve. I'm still unable to do DL above 135 lbs and this is destroying my motivation, Squats I can only do 95 lbs.

Again, my chin-ups are progressing fabulously - I can now hang 35lbs from a belt and do 7 reps (I am 150 pounds now).

Any ideas what I should do about the nerve pinch? It's only noticeable when I try to DL or squat heavy. It's been 7 weeks already.

damnthefreshman15 said...

Buahaha! This is so true and it's so sad to know that.

Duvane Moodley said...

haha! Love it! I did a similar less... "direct" piece on my blog.

The fitness industry is marred by bullshit.


Check it out!

Tony said...

Great post as always, keep the good work up!

Raidho said...

Hi Martin, awesome post! I prefer weighted dips instead of benchpress. What do you suggest as goals loadwise for weighted dips for beginners/intermediate/advanced trainees?
Kind regards/ Johannes

t.c.c. said...

I was just starting to get annoyed by the lack up new posts, but this one proves good things come to those who wait. Terrific and so true.

I'm an infantry officer in the US Army, and one of my soldiers asked me this morning how I grew my arms so quickly in the past two months. I told him the truth: I started doing chins and dips with a 25-pound plate. No curls, no kickbacks, just raw weight and power.

Anonymous said...


love this man, I love good, witty writing that is also informative.

I know you recommend working out 3 times a week, but what is your opinion on other workouts, such as something like MMA? I know you are against metabolic conditioning, but are more sport specific metcon workouts (MMA conditioning is a perfect example), is that permissible.

Obviously everyone wants both strength and aesthetic gains. But how does one effectively build conditioning without sacrificing energy in strength training? Thanks! - Jay

onlyeric said...

@anonymous "Martin, what would the suggestion be for someone who would like to squat and deadlift a lot more but is a novice at those lifts, worried about form/not doing it correctly?"

If you are a novice then do SS like he suggested. Squats 3x a week and Deads 1x. I haven't really seen anyone suggest doing deads more than 1x a week. It is a taxing exercise.

And for the people asking about Oly lifts, I'm not Martin, but if he was totally against them then he probably would have said something in this article since the Power Clean is in Starting Strength. But not sure how he would recommend it past that stage, or if he would.

Barry said...


Thanks Martin!

DS said...

Perfect timing. Yesterday at the gym, a fucktard was tying up a squat rack doing body weight squats on a bosu ball. Yes, he actually positioned the bosu ball in the squat rack to do this.

Ryan said...

Hi Martin,

You mention you havbe a few clients that do crossfit. What modifications (if any) have to be made to the leangains protocol to account for this?

I do crossfit myself, and I know this style of training goes against your 3 days of training a week reccomendation (most crossfit practitioners I know go 5 days a week or so), so I was curious as to how leangains can be made to fit this.


Anonymous said...


ElleG said...

Looks like I'm really guilty of #11...My balance sucks, so I try to improve it with balance balls...

Great post, though; I really liked that you included a woman's workout routine. I'll have to check out that Facebook group.

If you care, I'd be interested to see a post on recommendations for workouts that can be done with free weights alone (no machines). I personally have access to only a couple of machines, and in general, even when I've had more access, the machines don't usually fit me. I'm only 5'3".

One last thing...I'm probably alone in your readers here, but I can't even do 1 chin-up (or pull-up)... Are there any movements you would suggest to get to the point of being able to do them?

malpaz said...

hot damn, i now have a way to wager my progress.
according to the progress i need to start weighting my chinups and dips

if i cant squat, for real my hips are unevenly rotated forward on one side, the guy at the gym had my try this seated squat leg press thing(damnit i am a rookie with machine names). is it okay to use instead of squat? only thing i know is people can press more on it than they squat, but i can also force my hips to align when i do it, kinda like deadlift

no doubt deadlifting has 'thickened' my back, it looks hella awesome and the rest of my body catches up to it too. its like the worlds best body forming lift, plus it keeps me with a 6pack

Karl said...

Martin, I love your stuff, but I think the outrageous amount of crude language in this post lowers the quality and even credibility. Please - take things to a higher level of class and professionalism.

Dominic said...

Your best post ever!! Lots of home truths and plenty of laughs along the way. Awesome

Lt. Coldfire said...

This is one of the funniest articles I've ever read this lifetime. Number 9 is an absolute classic. Love it. I am indeed guilty of many of these in the past and present, however. Working on it!

Richard Nikoley said...


Thank you man.

Yes, whille I'm and old fuck at 50 and I have had to modify a few things for now, lately, the core principle you taught me was just not to fuck around. Even with a single workout at 7-10 day intervals I am stronger than ever before in my life.

I keep it simple, make it really count: lower rep ranges, fewer sets, 2-3 minutes of rest between, and just a few core, compound moves and it makes going to the gym make a lot of sense for a long time.

Be well. I'll get something up on my blog soon to return the favor.

Anonymous said...

Could you post reasonable achievements for women who have been training for two years, like you did with men? It's going to be another few years until I've been training for five, and I have no idea if the slow progress I've been making is reasonable.

If I don't have a ton of rest days between workouts, and get eight hours of sleep every goddam night, I make no progress at all. It's been quite the learning curve.

Tom said...

Brilliant article, a pleasure to read. I totally agree, I never see people in the gym do chin ups but they're essential and what I always do at the start of my bicep routines.

Mr Zell said...

And if you ever get tired of bosu balls you could always try this.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WarkijfZz2Q

Azura said...

I'm reading this at the music library at my college, and people are staring because I'm laughing at a soundless computer screen. The three months of no posts were well worth this one AWESOME gem! Your site finally got my bench-press and deadlift skyrocketing after a two-year "plateau"; thanks!

Nick Fusaro said...

Just wanted you to know I sent a chronically afflicted friend this article. I'd been trying to convince him that 2x15 anything but especially 2x15 for flyes, curls, and triceps would not do shit for him. I sent this article to him over Skype. 30 minutes passed, and then he replied.

"Day 1: Weighted chins/Squat to one balls-out set. I will beat this set each time I set in the gym.

Day 2: Deadlift/Bench to a similar set. I start Monday"

"What the fuck is going to happen Monday that can't happen

"Brb, gym."

Tough love at its finest. Thanks a ton, Martin.

Ringerz said...

Great article as always.

Currently trying to cut using leangains, only 1 week in so far and am really pushing to make it work.

Similar question to what a few other posters have made and that is what would you recommend to someone unable to heavy DL or Squat? (l5 disc herniation which always seems to flare up if I try and return to these movements).

I'm currently trying out RPT 3xweek with

Mon- Inc Dum x3, Leg press x3, Weighted pulls x3, Calf raise

Wed- OH Dumbell press x3, Bulgarian split squat x3, DB Row x3

Friday - flat dumbbell x3, weight pull x3, weighted dip, farmers walk

Any advice would be really appreciated. Cheers

Anonymous said...

This is an internet classic.

Julian said...

First of all, excellent article you sir are truly an inspiration not just physique but wit and intellect. That said, I have a question that may very well be fuckin around a bit, but here goes. I know your position on cardio,i've read the majority of your articles but I ran xc in high school and have done some type of running ever since. I love the chemical rush, the zone out for me is meditative. I'm not talking about bitchness cardio either, i'm talking about damn hard work. Now I also love strength training and I feel as though a healthy combination of the two is ideal for brain optimization of BDNF release. So what do you feel about High Octane Cardio? one workout I like to do is 50lb dumbbell every 2 minutes on an elliptical doing 1 arm 3-5 rep military standing presses,then back on for 20-30 minutes. If I were to design a program where I progress in reps and weight over time, do you think I would see decent results? Or have I caught a mean case of fuckarounditis

Daniel said...

Anyone have recommendations on how to take his recommended workout from Jen a step further?

Day 1 (Monday)

5-min walk for warm-up.
Deadlift 2-3 sets of 4-5 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins.
Leg extensions - Same setup as deadlifts, but reps a bit higher (6-8).
Rest 5-10 mins.
Chins - Same as deads.

Day 3 (Wednesday)

5-min walk for warm-up.
Bench press 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins
Pull-ups 2-3 sets with body weight.
Rest 5-10 mins

Day 5 (Friday)

Squats 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins.
Walking lunges 2-3 sets same as squats.
Rest 5-10 mins.
Overhead Press 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps reverse pyramid style.
Rest 5-10 mins
If I could do that pretty easily, how could I make it more intense? Should I not worry about quantity and just stick with this and lift as heavy as possible?

Jorge said...

Haha great article. I'm guilty of a few of these. I do planks with my feet on a bosu ball. But I only do planks and side planks for abs/core. Also, I have short hamstrings and a spinal stenosis, so I do romanian deadlifts instead of regular deadlifts. Regular deadlifts at over 50% 1RM will mean I can't walk for a few days due to disc issues.

TrailGrrl said...

I am so guilty of Fuckarounditis. It took your Spock-like logic to reach me. Also the fact that you eat a lot of cheesecake and meat and drink a lot of Heineken.

I have been half-assing following Leangains. Fast 16 hours, eat lots of meat, throw in some cheesecake, and do conditioning workouts for an hour that would take me 4 days to recover from.

But I finally decided to let go of all the conditioning and other "functional training" goofiness I've been using to try to "get into shape" (meaning look good naked or nearly naked) and return to what had worked for me in the past which was heavy leg presses, squats, overhead presses, and bench presses and working out 2 or maybe 3 times per week. This is a routine I can do at work in our fitness center in very little time, and one that I can do consistently.
Once I started moving up the iron plates again, I could tell a difference. No need for breathless conditioning routines for my main goal which is to LOOK GOOD NAKED and still be able to drink tall dark Warsteiners and eat wings several times a week.

I was burning myself out trying to mix and match MMA routines, CF-like workouts, with the Leangains dietary approach. I would end up staring into space afterwards and then shoveling in as much food as possible if I actually didn't feel nauseous.

This simplified, minimalistic lifting routine works much better. I should have listened to the Wise Swede to begin with and gone all in, intead of trying to put together Frankenstein's monster of a training regimen.

Being female and in my late 40's, building and keeping muscle is even more important.

Thanks for mentioning the Leangain Ladies finally and pointing us to the Facebook page.


GypsyGirl said...

Fucking awesome, I can't stop laughing! I want to post these at 24 hour fitness for all those bitches there who don't know how to train.

Tim - The Lean Look said...

I really loved this post! I like how you cut right to the chase. Working out is so simple yet so many people make it entirely to complicated. I have to admit I was one of those guys who dropped the squat and deadlift for a while because I didn't love the big leg look - I would just sprint on the treadmill 3-4 times per week to keep my legs strong and muscled. However, I wasn't necessarily the best choice considering all the advantages that come with those two exercises (burn more fat, stronger, work your abs like crazy, burn more calories, etc, etc.....).

Anonymous said...

Could some guys (who know what they are talking about) please put some samples of their weekly lifting routines down here. Until a few weeks ago I completely followed mainstream bodybuilding mags for nutrition and training. This site has sorted my nutrition and now I want to nail my training. I get that you should stick to the core lifts (squat, dead, bench, chins and pulls) but can you give me routines and splits (other than the one listed in blog). I'm training for classic bodybuilding, not that it seems to make much of a difference.

On a different note, I have read some stuff about artificial sweeteners being recognised as sugar by the body and thus having similar effects, any thoughts on this?

Timothy said...

An amazingly complete article, and hilarious too. Longtime LG followers can consider this a 25-question test of comprehension. Newbies can take it as a tutorial.

Berkhan, you've outdone yourself. Who will buy your book when they can read this post for free?

Vicki said...

So good i'm speechless. Marry me and have my kids?

Anonymous said...

Martin, I am a big fan of your site, and you're probably right about this. That being said, I'm going to play devil's advocate here because I think your response will be useful for people:

I followed the training strategy you describe in this article for years. I weighed 155 and got my deadlift up to 375 for reps. My squat for reps was 325. One day a back injury suffered while deadlifting forced me to stop. That was several years ago, and while the injury has, after months of rehab, gotten to the point where I don't feel pain in day-to-day life, I can no longer squat or deadlift, not even lightly. I have tried, and have woken up with severe sciatica the next morning. Nonetheless, doing mostly isolational movements I look about the same now as I did then (though I am far weaker). Moreover, honestly, even at my strongest, I didn't look that muscular. Athletic maybe, but not impressive at all. Now perhaps this is because my dietary knowledge has improved (mostly thanks to you!) in the interim. Or maybe not. Looking forward to your response.

Vanguard said...

I agree with a lot of what Martin says and have even integrated IF into my life and will buy his book if he ever publishes it. Definitely a good laugh for some and an eye opener for others. However he himself adds to the confusion by acting like so many other trainers who says all the other training programs out there are BS and you need to listen to me and do my program cause I know what I am talking about. I have clients to show and prove I know what I am taking about, only thing is so do the other guys.

Perhaps there is more then one way to train and get results? Perhaps there are different ways to diet, high carb/low carb and get similar if not identical results? Are you telling me every natural bodybuilder only got in the condition they are in following the same training program that Martin says here or could it be they all used the same core movements but used different splits, rep ranges and number of days to train and still got similar results?

Jeff said...

Hellz to the yeah! That was a great read. I almost choked on my dinner.

i had to go to the Dr a few months ago and she was asking the stupid questions about diet, sleeping and exercise. I told her that I lift weights a few times a week and she asked for some specifics. So I said bench press, squat and dead lift. Told me at my age (41) that I shouldn't be doing squats and deads any more


She can suck it :)

Anonymous said...

I'm 6'4" and squats(back) have never been easy for me to keep good form. Lunge variations have always been a better option for me. I also have to disagree with your view of dropping all cardio. For the obese(>%25BF) walking is an excellent way to burn extra calories. Not just the obese either,talk to any competitive bodybuilder(natural or assisted) and most have incorporated some form of moderate, morning cardio to help them get shredded.

This guy! said...

Hey Anonymous I am 6'3 and I don't squat at all. Why? Because I leg press and deadlift and that accomplishes the goals of a solid core and massive legs. Check out Lyle McDonalds article on Leg press vs Squat. Squat is not good for tall people but these dogmatists will tell you otherwise.

Damon said...

I love your well-researched, no-bullshit approach to muscle building and fat loss. Couldn't say enough good things about it.

I fully understand the importance of squats but I don't have access to a power rack as I train at home. Is there *any* feasible substitute in the above workout for squat day? RPT lunges is the best I can think of that wouldn't be too close to a dead lift. All I have are (heavy)barbells/dumbbells.

Anonymous said...

Re: Annonoymous comment above about physique not being impressive despite having advanced levels of strength, I can totally relate. At bodyweight 135, I do about 5 reps with 315 deadlift, 5 reps 265 squat, 3-5 reps of 185 lbs bench. Bodyweight pullups are a breeze (record around 35) and usually do reps of 8-10 with 45-55 lbs attached. However, I am still not where I want to be physique wise. Yes I look athletic but only bear slight resemblence to the aesthetic ripped bodybuilding look. I think focusing on strength at the exclusion of volume, frequency and even variation in exercises/angles (Martin may not have needed this but hes probably in the minority) is NOT going to help your physique. I remember when I faithfully stuck with starting strength for nearly a year. My poundages all went up but I looked horrible. The only thing that bore resemblance to "aesthetics" was my thighs which had puffed up from the excessive squatting and looked like turnips. Too many "bros" train only upper body and have great aesthetics. They did not squat or deadlift for bigger bi's. They increased curl and pressing poundages for reps. Wheelchair bodyuilbders have imrpessive upper body despite atrophied lower body - again, they don't squat. Gymnasts don't do the minimalist style of HIT and instead do fairly high volume/frequency "shy of failure" work and have great upper body aesthetics. And it doesn't take them a lifetime to build it - if you know gymnasts in real life (I roomed with several in college), SUMMERS OFF produce dramatic transformations. Martin's style is certainly effective for him and several of his clients but I also see the "strength-itis" folks who have admirable intensity, logical progression in weights, yet STILL have sub-par physiques. The only reason you see less of them than the "volume" crowd is simply n is greater for the latter. I'd venture to say the proportion of successful aesthetics produced by either are similar, and possibly even with a bend toward the volume side (especially short term)...genetics and lifestyle choices may be the biggest variable to consider.

Kamil said...

This one was even better than the fish oil one.

Anonymous said...

Oh no Martin... it looks like there could be an outbreak of Fuckarounditis on your comments section - is it contagious?!

Jeff said...

Master Berkhan,

You are right, I am weak and fat. How do I learn to do chin-ups?

Martin Stiegler said...

Wow, this is one of the best training articles i've read so far.

Anonymous said...

This is an internet classic. No question about it.

Anonymous said...

thanks to this article I had nightmares of weak people doing Barbell Curls in the Powerrack :-(

Julian said...

lol biggest fuckarounditis for me is smoking weed everyday while fasting. Oh well, down to 10-12% bf

allie said...

Bookmarked! This cracked me up, I love your frequent use of the word fuck, and it is a good reminder overall of why I do what I do. Good shit.

Positively Radical Gina said...

Aaaugh! I was completely in the the weeds of Fuckarounditis! My 6 months of expensive Pilates reformer classes and resulting purchase of my own reformer! What did I get out of it in the end? Bubkis! As a woman who has been a skinny weakling all her life, this post is the final push I need to go hire that personal trainer and start your regimen for reals! Thanks for the thoughtful and humorous post. I'm bookmarking this and sending it around as well.

TrailGrrl said...

Ok did you get a load of the dweeb on the leg curl machine in Jenn's video??? She's busting out the chin up reps and he's fucking around with like 5lbs on leg extensions. And the dude off to the right in the black t-shirt...he's just standing around rubbernecking. Don't get me started on the guy walking around carrying a gallon jug of water...

rnd said...

So a proper rutine would be

Tuesday: Deadlifts and chin-ups
Thursday: Bench press and tricep extensions
Saturday: Squats and calf raises


Jim said...

Hi Martin Great post, How would a Leangains type Workout Routine Look During A Bulk och Maintance Phase?

Kujo said...

Very funny and so true.

I do think single leg exercises have their place (Bulgarian split squats are awesome), but I agree, they're not superior to regular squats. They're a very good accessory exercise.

I also think foam rolling, and full body mobility warms trump walking on a treadmill as a warm-routine.

Great article Martin. I hope we don't have to wait too long for the next one. :D

Jake said...

Interesting and certainly true for some ... but how about those of us that need to mix cardio in with strength training (triathletes, mountain bikers, etc). While being strong and lean is important to us, it's not all about aesthetics? A while back you mentioned you would be posting about the optimal way to mix strength and cardio ... I'm still anxiously waiting for that post and wondering if you recommend carbs post cardio exercise like strength days?

Txomin said...

Funny and extremely informative. I will revisit this post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say, loved the article. Also, thanks to your influence Martin, in the past 6 months I've re-tooled my entire training to basically revolve around heavy chins, dips, bench presses and max effort sumo dead lifts, and recently have started doing heavy squats and military presses. Thanks for helping me see the light!

arisolo said...

I like a lot of what you said, especially about being a minimalist and not fucking around in the gym when you're there. However, there's one point that I don't agree with. You talked about doing zero core training and letting your squats and deadlifts take care of it. While it may be true that you'll gain a significant amount of core strength and stability, it will be nowhere near the level of, say, a gymnast or even a wrestler. I've never met a powerlifter that can front and back lever. It doesn't happen because they all say the same shit. "I get my core training from squats." If you get your core training from squats, but can't handle your bodyweight, then you suffer from "Strength-itis"

marie said...

Love it, love it, love it.

My only question is, what are the goals for a woman less than 115 lbs? (I'm just under 5'2, and my scale read 107 first thing this morning. I don't think I'm skinny, but I am short.) Is there any reason I shouldn't aim for the same goals as the 115-155 lb gals? I've made some progress in the time I've been lifting and think that those goals are realistic, so are there different ones I should aim for, or can I use those? Also, is there a body weight chinup goal for women?

FreeJack said...

Awesome post, very informative, funny -- and so very true. And it's really good to have you back posting!

FrozeN said...

Hey martin can you write about training? Training each muscle group 2 a week is bad or good?

Please help this bothers me so much time..

Lowkae said...


Starting Strength has you squatting 3x a week and doing other stuff twice a week. I think the whole reverse pyramid thing is more for advanced trainees who want to focus on one muscle group per workout for a total of four workouts per week.

Plus I think Martin's saving specific routines for the book.

Maxim said...

This is epic! :)

Martin, quick question for you! How would you (and would you?) adapt Reverse Pyramid routine for somebody who can only workout twice a week? Adding additional set? Additional exercise? Or just leaving it all the same?

Anonymous said...

I am another one of those people you've saved from fuckarounditis, though I've not posted a comment before now. A friend showed me your blog back in May, 2011, thereabouts. At the time, I was 215lbs. I am now at 178lbs. Count on your fingers -- five months to drop 37lbs. This after spending almost 2 years fluctuating between 210-215lbs. On Wednesday, I deadlifted 195lbs for the first time. Currently my squat is at 125lbs and I am doing assisted chin-ups and dips at 75lbs (both are limited by a recovering shoulder injury). Maybe not excellent progress for 5 months of work but there's something I haven't mentioned yet: I'm a woman.

Thank you, Martin.

Anonymous said...

Martin, can you specify which triceps extension you're doing for triceps?

Greg S. said...

Great article Martin! Got a bit of deja vu moment when I saw your reply to Julien and recalled the lashing you gave me when I consulted with you in 2009. You told me my current routine back then was 'fucking retarded beyond human comprehension' lol. Then I made more progress in 2 months with your CrossFit/SS hybrid tha I had made in the last 2 years with the WODs and occasional benchmark workouts:) Today I'm training strength only 3xWeek and making great progress much thanks to the things I picked up from you! A BIG THANK YOU and keep up the great work you're doing!

/Your old client Greg S.

Anonymous said...

Do you know guys a severe case of fuckarounditis? Show only torso in pics...oh wait!

LucasMR said...

Believe me, in Brazil is worst !

Kristian said...

Hilarious and informative. Forwarded to an old friend who I used to do 5 day split, 30 sets per bodypart muscle mag training routines with back in the day.

E.E. said...

awesome! I am wondering (anyone that can answer this question please do) where I can find specifics about the diet that Martin recommends. I have read most of the articles and can't seem to find specific macro/calorie ratios. aside from IF are there further recommendations? thanks! brilliant material.

Emmex said...

Great post.

I used to participate in fuckarounditis, then I switched over to building the gymnastic body.

Now, I simply rock.

For those of you still stuck in the local gym with your weights, then berkhan's method is probably one of the best.

Ian said...

Great Post. Any chance of getting more of the client updates/testimonials/success stories up? And definitely some more Leangains Meals!

popimaster said...

I like the idea of heavy lifting and have been doing so myself, by don't you think human frame has it's limits ?

I've had a lower back injury due to one second of lost concentration on a squat (moderate weight), and there are many who have injured themselves doing heavy lifting.

The gym is not all about strength, some people just want to get active and preserve some muscle tone. Yes bicep curls will do the trick.

I don't want to de-motivate you, but do you really think you will be squatting 400 pounds when you're 50 ?

You'll probably get afflicted by injurities disease much sooner.

Since my injury I've realized that for health purposes it's best to engage in exercises that you can perform even when 90 years old.

Such as yoga and kettlebells.

Good luck to everyone, and always question what are you doing this for ?

Is it so your ego would enjoy looking at your tracking sheet and seeing 3x BW deadlift ? or so you have a healthy bone and muscle structure that can support you when you're 100 years old.

Arthur said...

Guilty of #23 and after my last plan i´m a bit lost and don´t know, what to start next but weights are still ramping up.
Due to a Hip-problem i can´t squat or deadlift anymore, so i don´t think i´m guilty of that ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, excellent article as always!

One thing I was surprised to see is the hate of belts. I used to squat without a belt because I thought that made me hardcore. Then I got two (2) cases of hernia. Now if I lift without a belt it feels like I have a knife in my stomach AND rectum (yes) AND someone twists those - and it lasts for two days straight. Belt fixed it and I cringe every time I see someone lift heavy without a belt.

You've been warned. YMMV.

Daniel L said...

How do you implement IF when sometimes work nights for an example 9pm to 6am. And some days are just "normal" ?

Daniel L said...

How do IF work if you like me work nights sometimes. For an example atm i am studying and work 9pm until 6am 2 nights a week?

Dani said...


You have helped me realize that I am weak and fat. And that training is actually very simple. All you need is consistency and the will to push yourself further.

Since I got rid of all the bullshit distractions out there, training has become a great joy for me.

Thank you

Mark Kelly said...

Hi Martin,

Superb post. I discovered your site in the summer after doing Rusty Moores Vacation bluprint diet for 10 days, and had a bit of a meltdown emotinally, lost tons of strength and to finninsh me off my wife said i looked Like a lolly pop (big head small shoulders). I went from 169bl's , to 149bls looked too thin. I have been training for 13 months and started stronglifts 5x5 recently and fininshed my 5th week today. When I seen your recomendations on intermediate goals i was very happy. Im now 165 bls and did 5x5 squats 226, Bench 181 and Pendly rows133, deadlifts 210.5 and 110 overhead press (all 5x5 bar the over head press). i can do 13 wide arm pull ups. Sorry for the long post as this is my first on any site (have lurked for long time). Im feeling more sore in my joints and hips do you have any advice on recovery other than rest and sleep? or should i back off for a few days? Im not on IF yet as I want to gain more muscle first and my wife thinks im obsesive about it all after the rapid weight loss in the summer. just looking for a bit of guidance as I really respect your site Thanks Mark. By the way there was some fat guy balancing on a swiss ball next to me when i was squatting this morning, and I resisted the urge to tell him about your site and just had a little laugh to myself instead.

Fredrik Gyllensten said...

Haha, great one, Martin! :)

Anonymous said...

Martain I have been following your Recomp meathod for about two months with great results. I have a quick question though. For a 175lb 5'11 male recomp do you still reccomend 2000 cal on rest days and 3000 cal on workout days? The rest days are kind of hard on me because of the reduced carb intake. Its usually something like 250g protien, 80g carbs(only vegitbles moderate fruit and trace carbs.) and fats. As long as I stay within 2000 calories and hit my 200-250g protien would it be detrimental to throw in some whole grain bread, oatmeal or sweat potatoes?

Or maby instead of having such a cyclical diet would you reccomend having just a higher protien balanced diet around 2000 calories on all days, and adding in 1000calories mostly from carbs during the post workout meals?

Frankly The reason I started using our meathod is because I wanted to start eating hedonistically again and stop obsessing over counting and cycling calories.

Jake said...

Another thing I'm not real sure about is carbs, as far as what are all considered "ideal" relating to post workout meals ... for example I'd love to hear your thoughts on cold cereals, toast w/ fruit spread, oatmeal, bagels w/ cream cheese, etc.

Dee said...

I like except "Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.2 or 8 reps with body weight." You say that within TWO years... 2 years to get to 8 chin ups of your own body weight?

Chrismagic said...

Martain, I am a college student, when I was home I could easily follow your meathod but now I am restricted to when my dinning halls are open. Monday through thursday they are open untill 830 and Friday through sunday they are open untill 7. Dinner does not start untill 430. Would there be any problem with making my feeding window from 4-530 and 630-830?


Rich said...

When is the book coming out?

William Wayland said...

Brilliantly funny had a good laugh at these

Anonymous said...

Squatting and deadlifting gave me super powers. True story.

Ole said...

Good post Martin. Whats your oppinione on dogcrap etc?

Gnarly Sheen said...

I hate asking questions like this, but I've never felt like asking in a place like the bb forum was a good idea (too much bullshit on the internet, like you said). So, here's my question:

Can I drop doing squats at all if I'm happy with my leg size but everything else is way behind? I guess in another way: will dropping squats affect my progress in other areas? Using the numbers you posted regarding strength goals, most of my body is square in the intermediate category while my legs (squats, deads) are in the advanced or elite section (I can squat more than I can deadlift).

4lnqnd3i said...

This article was a hilarious and refreshing slap in the face. Thank you Martin!

Jasonb said...

Fantastic post martin its being tossed around on every paleo site i think lol i am not sure if youll have time to answer but out of curiosity would you consider it more important to raise the amount of calories eaten on training days or on rest days? or just keep the calories super high on all days(this is in regards to mass gain obv.) thanks in advance!!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I was wondering what is your opinion of the Dukan diet. I understand its the french version of the high protein diet. What are its pros and cons?


Anonymous said...

Just in case you'd like to know about how IF helps without weight training: I have been IFing for about 6 months now and have gained muscle and kept about the same BF% I always had. Went from 141lbs to 154lbs. Starting weight training tomorrow!

Mr Secret said...

Hello Martin.
Do you have any clients that do elite level training in terms of aerobic activities or sports like soccer, etc and can make it work together with leangains diet 8 hour feeding window?

z90xhccs said...

Shouldn't it be fuckaroundosis? I guess itis works too since we all normally fuck around to a degree but those with fuckarounditis have an inflamed condition of it. Still I think osis might have worked better.

Bob @ HealthyMeansYou said...

This is my favorite article of yours Martin!

This applies to almost all of the people I see in my gym. And that's sad.

Anonymous said...

It would be great to see some addition to this post how to setup a workout routine. Is Jens workout some good point of start for a guy? I see her reverse pyramid workouts are higher reps then reverse pyramid revised post.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Berardi is no IFing. Funny. He does give you some props here at least http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting/chapter-6

Andreas Ericsson said...

Contemplationist (and all you other people with back problems):
I fractured a vertebra 2 years ago. Combined with my office job and general lack of mobility, this gave me severe back problems.

What sorted my deadlift and squat problems for me was a sort of qi-gong like active stretch a "base" (at the bottom) circus artist doing pyramide formations with his group taught me.

It works like this:
Do a sidelunge, stretch your "long leg" properly and maintain a straight angle from foot to shoulder. Bend away from your long leg and look forwards. Move your weight half-slowly to the other knee and turn the other way. Your torso should be facing 90 degrees away from your center of gravity. Stretch your arms out in front of your torso to get the scapula-attached muscles to put more pulling tension on the lower spine.
Repeat 6-10 times for each leg and keep doing this (forever, I'm afraid) every morning and as part of your workout before deadlifts and squats. Moving from side to side should take 1-2 seconds, and you should come to a full stop and rest half a second at each end. No more than that, or you might weaken the muscle for the upcoming workout.

You can do this stretch for a few reps between sets as well if you feel any discomfort. 3-6 weeks of this should have your backproblems at least alleviated to a point where you can once again make progress. Be alert for sharp, stinging pains though (as always) and listen to your body.

I'd imagine that stretch would be good for a number of people with back problems caused by disc compression, though I'm not a physician so check with a doctor if you're unsure or if it hurts when you do it.

Andreas Ericsson said...

To those wanting training routine advise:
Stick with Jen's routine, but add one or two reverse-pyramid group of sets at the end of the exercise isolating the muscles that give in first when doing the full-body exercises. If your biceps are the most sore after doing pull-ups, add some curls. If your abs are completely screwed over after deadlifts, add a set of abs. If glute strength prevents you from maintaining proper form on squats, add some extra leg-training.

There are excellent videos made by olympic or world-record lifters on youtube describing how to identify the weakest muscles in any core exercise and how to train them properly.

Andreas Ericsson said...

(might be a double-post. Please remove if so)

Martin: Great post, as usual.

I'd like to add this though; Some of the fuckarounditis symptoms have their place, as physical therapy where motor functions are disabled or hampered by injuries. I have a shoulder I've dislocated more times than I care to remember. I have a knee I've had surgery on when I was a kid, which I thought was just dandy but is a lot weaker than the other, balance-wise. It doesn't show until I load it heavily, but it was stopping me from going heavier on both squats and deadlifts. I once fractured the 'atlas' vertebra which, combined with my office-job, has given me general lower-back problems that originally prevented me from deadlifting and squatting properly.

Since I sorted them out (3-6 weeks worth of targeted exercises, balance traning and active stretching), I've increased my deadlift from 5x70kg (meagre for me, an ex-swimmer guy of 90kg with about 18% body fat according to my BIA scale) to a more respectable 8x120kg (yesterday), my squats have gone from 3x60 to 7x105 (hungover sunday) and I've been able to complete my first-ever pull-up (I did 1x7 + 2x5 of them not one hour ago). Pull-ups are particularly tricky since the tendons and ligaments in my shoulder simply don't work properly and my arm has to be kept in its socket by isometric muscle activity alone.

I'd also like to add that onelegged squats are actually pretty good for those who don't squat much more than bodyweight to begin with, and especially if knee injuries are present or if there's no spotter. After that, it's obviously less beneficial than adding weight, and doing one-legged squats with heavy weights *will* lead to hip, pelvic, lower back or knee problems. The laws of physics demand that a tilted pelvis and/or tilted knee is used for onelegged squats (due to center of gravity and weight balancing), and adding weight in that situation is not a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Relative strength is the best predictor of aesthetics? O rlly?


Crazy explosiveness, athleticism, and relative strength, yet average "scrawny" physique.

Anonymous said...

Why do you measure strength goals i x*bodyweight? According to your standards Benedict Magnusson (1015@380 DL) is only highly advanced, and will probably ever reach elite.

Lowkae said...


These relative strength standards don't really apply once you get to that heavy of a bodyweight. Magnusson is quite fat and his lean mass would probably reflect the standards better.

Plus he's on steroids....

Anonymous said...

Great article, Martin! Very humorous and enjoyable.

By the way, I have a question for you on chin ups. My squat and bench are very close (or maybe even a bit beyond) to that "advanced" range you prescribed, and my bench is coming up as well, but I can't do one chin up. What do you do with your clients who can't do a single chin up? Do you start with barbell rows? Thank you.

paul d said...


When I was 18, I joined my first gym in OZ. I was given a program with squats, deads and bench etc. At 5 foot 6, I was skinny fat big time.

After struggling to lift just the fucking bar on the bench press during my initial program induction, I turned to the instructor, eyeballed him and told him straight up, this program better not turn me into Arnold S (the terminator). He grinned, and said that is very very unlikely. To ensure I got no results, I ate total crap, smoked heaps of cigarettes, and drank fruit juice after each workout. Workouts changed all the time etc. End of year review, I was weaker, skinnier and fatter than when I started.

As of now, at age 41, I am the leanest ever (still got ways to go mind you), but in my recent routines, I just did 27.5kg incline dumbbells*5 with ok form, bodyweight dips *6, bodyweight chins*6, and 60kg squats * 10 (at a bodyweight of 67.5kg). This is after 10 months of training and a starting weight of 81kg.

This year, I have fucked around with a lot of HIIT, metabolic resistance training etc, and only recently started to get serious about strength.

I believe if you looked up an archetype/repesentative example of fuckaraounditis, my name and workout routines would be outlined in bold next to it with all symptoms ticked.

What is interesting is that with this diagnosis comes a dual diagnosis, mirrorcheckingitis. You may want to see what the prevalence of this in your gym. This is characterised by a combination of a fuckarounditis routine and endless time looking in the mirror, seeking evidence of gains rather than working hard to achieve the gains.

Gotta run, off to buy a pogo stick to use at my gym, given the gym only has three bosu balls.

Cheers Paul D

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in the RPS article you mention a 8-9 day cycle for your workout, here you only give a schedule for 3 days, how do you fill up the cycle? Just repeat the same 3 days or take more rest? I've expierenced some lower-back pains after consistenly squating/deadlifting once a week, however, i did do a lot of volume (shit) besides that

Anonymous said...

Publish your fucking book!

Anonymous said...

I´d like to see what you would recommend diet/training wise for someone training MMA or football 4-5 times a week

Anonymous said...


Are you actually in shape? My guess would be not.

The Navy SEALS and Green Berets are in shape. You are just for looks. Being FIT and being cut are TWO DIFFERENT things.

Thewre are some Navy SEALS and Green Berets who are cut, others are not and a tiny but chubby- ALL are VERY fit.

3 mile beach run WITH BOOTS on sand under 30 minutes

immediately followed by 1 mile ocean swin under 30 minutes

Evan said...

Hi fellow leangainers,

Perhaps someone can guide me through Martin's website as I have been unable to locate it myself.

Question is, what activity does Martin do to increase fat loss? ie some kind of cardio plan that I can't find.

I'm under the impression that Martin is saying Fat Loss will come through

1. just proper dieting which includes some trial and error with macronutrient intake %'s following the Leangains guide of IF.(of which I am also reducing roughly 500 calories daily for additional fat loss)
2. strength training every other day.

Thanks in advance to all who can help.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic article. I think we have all been guilty of this to some degree.

Is it worth mentioning also, that the condition can be due to a result of more and more underpar fitness gyms popping up, that have spent ludicrous amounts of money on every machine you can think of, yet haven't bothered to invest in a simple powercage/squat rack? Have seen two of these in the last couple of weeks.

I cannot understand how you could buy 20+ signiture series life fitness machines (top top end commerical equipment), yet fail to spend 600 quid on a rack and barbell. Makes me so mad (I'm a trainer who works in these gyms free lance).

Just a thought, keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Martin, great article, a couple of those struck close to home. One request though....
CAN WE GET AN ARTICLE ON REFEEDS? I know you advocate them but it would be much easier to put them into application if you gave some general guidelines and rules for application. THX!

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin,

In your experience, what would body composition look like in a male that hits your intermediate targets with 12-13% body fat?

Anonymous said...

Hey martin, is your actor-client chris pines?

Ben Joven said...

Great stuff...LOL'ing right now! Just curious did you write this in a fasted state, and how much mg of caffeine was running through your system at the time of the post.

Regardless keep the stuff coming!

Richard said...

It's a bit late for the contest but I saw #19 in action yesterday. I was beside a guy doing a bench press who (1) added 270lb to the bar (2) had two friends, standing on each end of the bar, help him lift it off the rack (3) lowered it about half-way while they kept supporting part of the weight and (4) had them help him back up on all 3 reps. Too bad I couldn't get a video :) And I thought I picked the gym with the least people who are just there to show off!

Anonymous said...


There are several people here asking about what seems to be a "parodox" where some people do all the right things and they can get very strong, but don't get big muscles. It would be nice to have you give an opinion on this as many of the post allude to it.

I was one of those people a few years ago who kept getting stronger and stronger on bench, squats, deadlifts, and I ate and ate and I got very big (fat). When I lost the weight I basically looked like I never lifted or barely lifted considering the weights I was able to handle (260 bench, 300 squat for reps, and 350 deadlift)

I am sure with as many clients as you have you have ran into this-what is the answer?


Anonymous said...

"I was one of those people a few years ago who kept getting stronger and stronger on bench, squats, deadlifts, and I ate and ate and I got very big (fat). When I lost the weight I basically looked like I never lifted or barely lifted"

I too am in a similar situation and I'm very keen on reading Martins response to this.


Anonymous said...

Same as above two comments and some as the others I've seen on here-able to get very strong doing abreviated programs with squats/deads/ etc..., but very little size increase even when eating big. I hope Martin doesn't leave this unanswered...

Thanks, Joe

strike said...

To the above Anonymous posters complaining they have not gained size, I would endeavour to say that you're obviously not eating enough.

Post height, weight and you're lifting stats.

Eg. You wouldn't have a impressive physique if you're 6'2 weigh 230 pounds and can only bench 250 pounds

Anonymous said...


Can't speak for the others, but I know I took in more than enough calories.

I ate big-got fat-but also very strong. Can't remember all my stats, but I am 5'7" and my best squat was 300lb for about 8 reps and that wasn't to failure. Like I and the others said we got very strong-no doubt you build strength with this. I worked out hard-almost vomiting on more than one occasion. Was not guilty of the "F" itis, Martin talks about. Did everything by the book--"Hardgainer mag" -probably gained 40lb of bodyweight, but after dieting down, maybe looked like I was in shape, but that's about it.

I don't have time to do anything but a hardgainer type routine if I was to start today, but I don't just want to "be strong" I want to "look strong"-put on muscle.

I welcome any insight, but not eating enough was hardly my problem-I actually ate too much.

Laurence M said...

Hey Martin, Charles Poliquin published a blog story supporting the benefits of 8 set leg training, as compared to 4 or 1 set. This leads to more strength which in turn leads to size, apparently, under this level of training volume.

Here is the reference: Marshall, P., McEwen, M., et al. Strength and Neuromuscular Adaptation Following One, Four, and Eight Sets of High-Intensity Resistance Exercise in Trained Males. European Journal of Applied Physiology. November 2011. 111, 3007-3016.

Extenze said...

I've always been a voracious reader and even though I get most of my reading fix from scientific journals these days, I try to squeeze in an interesting book whenever I get a chance.

Darren L said...

Martin, thank you for curing my fuckarounditis. Now my workout only takes 1 hour vs 1.5 hrs to almost 2 hours and I feel the burn MORE both during and the days after my work outs. Currently following Jenn's routine and it is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Martin, I translated your article into Italian.
See it at




I also posted this on the FB page, if you need to contact me

Chris said...

From number 24:
"And then there's the fact that nothing beats the feeling you get from breaking a new personal record"

This feeling keeps me going back day after day, week after week.

Awesome article!

Anonymous said...

I just got a guest pass at a gym in Virginia where i was traveling for business. Everywhere I looked there was fuckarounditis. There was the guy doing bicep curls on a bosu ball. There was the woman doing tricep kickbacks with a three pound (very)dumb bell. And best of all, every trainer fistbumped every client after EVERY set!

BikerBod said...

Fantastic article and great blog. Has completely changed my approach to training and diet. No more fucking about now! Thanks.

bjafari said...

this article has seriously changed my life lol

bill1102inf said...

i almost (sigh) can not believe the amount of fuckarounditis in these posts

"There was the woman doing tricep kickbacks with a three pound (very)dumb bell. And best of all, every trainer fistbumped every client after EVERY set!" <--i just fell of the fucking chair!

Anonymous said...

I had almost every single one of these.


Anonymous said...

guilty. i have fuckarounditis. now, i must do something with my weight and (lack of) strength. thank you for opening my eyes. :)

timothy said...

Speaking of using 1RM as a measuring stick of progress:

1. How accurate are 1RM calculators?

2. If I were to do a 1RM test, when would it be ideal? Do my bench 1RM on my squat day? Do it before my bench workout? ..which would in my opinion, ruin my bench workout.

Anonymous said...

Which type of weight training do you recommend to do with the fasting? 3x per week full body?

Mie said...

"Strength is strength. Cardio is cardio. Don't mix, keep them separate, and use cardio sparingly on a diet or if your primary goal is strength and muscle gain."

Good stuff otherwise, except for the idea of muscle gain while being on a calorie deficit, mentioned above. Doesn't really happen, unless you're a complete newbie or "chemically enchanced".

Plus I wouldn't consider it smart to try and lift new records on a diet, because the lack of fat & fluids in your body don't exatcly make it safe. Gain muscle while you bulk, lose fat when you diet. Don't mix the two phases.

Etienne said...

This article is actually frightening...
I have been working out for years and it is always important to stop and do do a check up sometimes to see what's wrong with our routine.
This article is the occasion for me to do so.

Thank you Martin !


Mie said...

"I am sure with as many clients as you have you have ran into this-what is the answer?"

Since Martin's not here to address this, I'll put in my two cents.

Strength and muscle size aren't synonyms. Hardgainer type of routines are great in increasing strength especially for newbies and intermediate level trainees, but of limited use in increasing muscle size further down the road. This is because

a) you don't get that much more growth stimulus due to the slow progress in weights you're able to handle (very few people who've been training for 5+ years can increase their bench press for more than a couple of pounds per month, if they go Hardgainer one year after another)

b) you usually tend to compensate in "the wrong direction" by having longer and longer pauses between sets, which means that your work load (amount of weights lifter in time X) isn't going to increase - and thus you ain't going to gain any more muscle

Solution? Track your progress (learning log!) and train in a versatile way. Going heavy 24/7 is for idiots and for those who enjoy problems with inflammated joints & tendons. The same goes for pure volume training, which will make you plateau in the long run, too, since it doesn't elicit better strength gains.

Periodization is the answer. E.g. do 1-2 months "basic" training (moderate weights, going from 3x10 --> 5x12), then 1-2 months strength (e.g. old school 5x5 or 6x3-->10x3), then 1 month classic HD-bodybuilding style (include special techniques like forced reps etc.).

Unlike Martin recommends, fixed rep/set ranges are a great idea for maintaining that steady progress. It doesn't matter if you progress faster and that last set of 10's will actually be a set of 15. Just compensate for this in the next cycle and remember that progress happens in the long run, one single workout is insignificant in the comparison.

Rage said...

I've tried deadlifts and squats several times over the past few years but every time, no matter how strict the form, they both cause tremendous back pain. I later found out that my hips are not even and cause an imbalance thus causing the back pain. Are there any other exercises that I could incorporate to take the place of these two greats?

Ken said...

Hi Martin

Great article. I'm ashamed that I had many of these symptoms..

Just a question: do you do superset for additional exercises (not the 4 main compounds one)?
If an average trainer only does 2 lifts (eg deadlift + chin) in one session without other exercises it can be done in ~ 30 mins right? (3 sets each)

Anonymous said...

One thing I would like to say here is that your estimate for a woman training 5-10 years is extremely underated. Unfortunately, in our societies there continues to be this perception that women cannot lift incredible amounts with regular training. 120-130 lbs bench press is easily attainable to a woman within a year and a half to two years of training. Having a 200 lbs+ bench max for a woman should not, in a perfect world, be surprising after 10 years of training. Unfortunately, not many women truly commit to progressive strength training. Those that do easily see these results, but they are few and far between. A huge part of the problem is social, and we need to stop setting such low standards for women or deeming it unacceptable for women to be physically strong (and truly so) in modern western societies.

Greg said...

Just started training and now I know 25 rationalizations or excuses that will not get in my way! Thanks for constant reminders that are now on my office wall.


RyanM said...

So what exactly do you do when you have severe right wrist tendonitis and your wrists can't support the amount you can lift? Wrist straps (even with hooks) help minimally, as in still need fingers which are connected to wrist.

Billy Jeans said...

This is the best topics I have ever read. I do feel ashamed about myself. All those training and sweats for 2 to 3 years. Now I know what I was doing wrong. Why I am not seeing any changes. It's never too late. I am only 24 still. I just want to thank you for opening my eyes.

phiroc said...

Funny shit Martin! Unfortunately, we all have been there in some form or other but it's great to be reminded! I remember Bruce Lee having a great quote that deals with that exact matter. It goes like like this! You start with the essentials, the basics and then in time you keep adding stuff only to find out that all you need is what works in the first place.

Anonymous said...

sorry to interrupt the circlejerk of comments, and understand that i agree with the general premise of this article. but the style with which this was written only further perpetuates the stereotype that weightlifters are elitist meatheaded narcissistic assholes, whether that is your intention or not (which i don't personally think it is).

your claims about commercial gyms for example, while they may make for an entertaining read are gross hyperbole, and even if there are a bunch of 50 year old women doing bosu ball exercises, i don't think they are at a stage in their life where they actually care that much about reaching some weight loss goal as much as just feeling better about themselves in a general sense.

along these same lines, anyone who actually sees this article is already aware of any points you actually made. it's like the purpose of the article was to get a bunch of people to raise their pitchfork at the commoner you see in the gym who isn't all that concerned with actively seeking out counsel on the internet. the claim that 99% of people don't squat and deadlift or are afraid of the exercises is just as much hyperbole as any broscience you may encounter in menshealth.

i just feel like if people actually gave a shit about the well-being of others improving their overall strength or whatever the purpose is, they wouldn't take up such a condescending tone and throw out bullshit hyperbole and attempt to paint some alpha-male bullshit persona on an internet blog.

again, just my 2 cents, you can approach the issue however you want but understand that to the layman you might come across as brash and arrogant.

gustav said...

Oh dear I have five of theese symtoms!

Better find a cure and quickly! Time is strenght

Anonymous said...

Your section on the Illusion of Complexity is gold. The internet has made many otherwise simple things seem horrendously complex just from the sheer volume of information.

Wazzup said...

Just tried the LG-style RPT workout today and I must admit that waiting 3-5 minutes between sets (and 5-10 minutes between exercises) feels a bit like fuckarounditis to me (coming from a myo-rep scheme)

Hopefully that feeling will pass when lifts start to go up.

Anonymous said...

You clearly don't suffer with any kind of self doubt. Your post has kept me on the edge of my seat for 30 minutes. Dead interesting, I love the simplicity, I really like your enthusiasm and it's definitely made me want to train differently. Thank you.



Nick hatfield said...

I've always been a skeptic of most lifting broscience, only listening to the most well versed. I've always believed people do way to much shit. I read the part about the abs and spending lots of time on them. I hate ab workouts and want to kick everyone that spends lots of time on abs in the nuts. I stick to the basics as far as my lifts go and include deads and squats. If im not a dude that insists on apple sized abs...Do I even need to isolate them?

Anonymous said...

Can you make a pamphlet that we can print out and hand out at the gym? My husband and I see this ALL THE TIME! I'm 125 lbs and do harder workouts than most of the guys! It's sad...

Neil said...

Solid post. I like the no bs tone . I agree with it all but #24 . Whether its to make us more confident or raise our self esteem and feelings of accomplishment , it really does boil Downvto making us into that sexual threat and bringing up our 'status.'. Its in our genes, regardlesscofvwhat we tell ourselves... We just wanna reproduce.

worthdesigning said...

Are you kidding me?

I am a female, and to me you look fuckin' like SHIT! Butt ugly.

All those lumps and bumps. FUCK. You look like a fucking freak. Fuck off deludoid.

Any male that goes this extent has a problem upstairs.

Anonymous said...

There is a mistake in this article. The goals for chinups should be 0.2 x body weight for intermediate. 0.5 x body weight for advanced, etc based on the example provided.

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Feel free to surf my weblog - http://heatherteschcrafts.com

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

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