Update on Muscle Gain, Workouts, Cutting, Change of Diet


 It’s been a while since I wrote about my progress and seeing as it is the end of the year I find it fitting that I post some progress pictures and an update on what I have been doing since my last update (I don’t even remember when that was). Also if you are reading this it means that the world did not end on the 21st of December, so I am wishing you a merry Christmas and an of the chains New Year. I hope that you guys have had an awesome 2012 and are planning on having an even better 2013. If your year did not go so well, that is fine too, rebuild and concentrate your efforts on achieving all your goals in 2013, do not forget 2012 but learn from the mistakes you made during the past year.

bigger arms biceps pose update
Arm/bicep pose pic taken in the morning on the 20th dec 2012

I have done Intermittent fasting and 5 meals per day and now what?

Okay now that that is out of the way, I am going to talk about my progress. In the past year I have done a lot of experimentation, from intermittent fasting to eating 5 or more meals per day, each with their different effects, pros and cons. I have written about my experiences before so I will not repeat things that I have already written about.

What I will share with you is that I have not been intermittent fasting or eating many times per day for the past couple months. So what have I been doing? I have been trying to maintain and build muscle whilst having a type of meal plan that anyone can keep up with which does not require much effort. I still using the same rules I use even when I am fasting or eating many times per day only I only eat the recommended 3 meals per day of regular civilians.

Just to remind you of the rule, I eat more food meaning bigger portions during workout days, and on rest days I eat less because I do not need as much food especially carbs on rest days since I will not be as active meaning I will use and need less energy. I always eat breakfast most of the time I have eggs for breakfast, sometimes but not often I will have cereal or maize porridge. I also eat plenty of fruit throughout the day, I do not count fruit as a meal but just a snack usually apples and bananas but sometimes I have an orange as well and occasionally some peaches, mulberry and plums. I often have two meals on non workout days as I find I am not hungry and have no desire to eat, I also find it easier now to say no when someone offers me food when I have already eaten, or junk food.

updated arm chest shoulder pic
Front pic taken back in the beginning of december 2012 

My Goal Physique

I always said I wanted to get to 90kg’s and then cut to 85kg but that is not necessary, I judge my goal physique by the way I look rather than the weight on the scale so I might be happier being under 80kg’s if I look awesome and ripped at that weight. Take Ryan Terry for example he is a top fitness model and he is on the cover of a magazine like muscle and fitness and he is only about 80kg, he has an aesthetic muscular body at a low bodyweight and looks much bigger than he is. If I could have a Ryan Terry physique at around 80kg I would be happy with that.

update of front shoulders and chest
B/W pic of upper body with untidy  hair you may have noticed that I have  a mini Afro going on now, wanted to see how long I can go without a hair cut.

My Workout

I am still using my one body part per day workout program and I adjust it on weeks where I do not have enough time to a 4 or 3 day split so that I get all my body parts in on the action. I also still like incorporating bodyweight exercises in my workouts as I feel like they add something to the workout or at the very least could serve as great warm up sets. Rest is just as important as the workout itself, the other 23 hours of your day are just as if not more important than the hour you spent in the gym ( read something to that effect on twitter just the other day).

The Most Buff, Ripped, Jacked Rugby Players in the World


Rugby players are some of the toughest athletes in the world, because rugby is a tough rough and violent sport requiring great speed and/or power. These guys have to engage in functional training so that they pack on muscle so they are not tossed around but still are able to be athletic since rugby is a sport after all. The end result of all this functional training is a jacked up physic with low body fat for those who manage to train the right way. In this post I will give you some people who have got their training right and have got the jacked up physiques most men will only dream of having and most ladies want in their men.

Sonny Bill Williams – 1.91m and 108kg
sonny bill williams muscles shirtless newzealand
Sonny Bill Williams aesthetic muscle

Sonny Bill is one of the most famous rugby players in the world, he play for the All Blacks. He is a New Zealand Rugby League and Rugby Union player who is also a heavyweight boxer with 5 fights which are all wins 3 being by KO.


Pierre Spies – 1.94 and 107kg
pierre spies muscles topless blue bulls sprinboks
Pierre Spies Huge Rugby Muscle

Pierre is a South African Rugby player with one of the most impressive physique with both size and cuts, he also moves pretty well for a man of his size. He plays for the Blue Bulls in Super Rugby and domestic leagues.

Sebastien Chabal – 1.91m and 114kg
sebastien chabal french rugby player shirtless muscles
Sebastien Chabal French Rugby beast Muscle

Sebastien is a beast of a man with a beard known as the caveman. He is a Frenchman who plays for the French rugby national team and Racing Metro 92 Paris the French domestic rugby league.

Thom Evans – 1.83m and 91kg
Thom evans scottish rugby player kelly brook boyfrriend shirtless muscles
Kelly Brooks Boyfriend Rugby muscle

Thom is a Zimbabwean born retired (due to serious neck injury) Scottish Rugby player turned model. He used to play wing for Glasgow Warriors.

Luke O’Donnell – 1.85m and 103kg
luke o'donnell muscles shirtless rugby aussie
Australian Luke O'Donnell Rugby muscle

Luke is an Australian professional Rugby League player who plays for the North Queensland Cowboys of the National Rugby League.

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End of the World or another Chance for New Year’s Resolutions



Apparently according to the Mayans or the people who study them, the world is going to end this year on the 21st, I am not one to believe in that sort of thing. One could do crazy things like blowing all their life savings( not that I have any) just because someone said the world is ending just to wake up the next morning only to find the world intact and realizing just how silly they were to believe such things. Remember year 2000, wasn't the world supposed to end then as well? I can’t actually believe people spend their lives trying to research this end of the world stuff and make documentaries just to scare us (and actually get paid to do this).

21st end of the world new years resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions


Now back to reality, it’s almost the end of the year and New Years Day is almost upon us, now usually many people reflect on the year that was and make New Year’s resolutions and most people have lose weight and get fit in their list but soon after the first couple weeks of Jan after over populating the gym’s for those few weeks these resolutions people start dropping of the face of the gym one by one until gym-land is normal again.

Why New Year’s Resolutions are a Waste of time


I do not really know why people do not stick to their new year’s resolutions or why they make them every year even though they know they will not take those resolutions seriously. It may be that momentarily they reflect on the year that has passed and realise that they are still fat or out of shape and they have done nothing to change it, then they make a promise to themselves to change their behaviour and to eat better and work out only to forget that promise one they are not in reflection mode or once they figure out that getting in shape is not going to be as easy as they thought it was going to be.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that the day they are made has no real significance to people so they do not take the promises they make to themselves seriously. Also there is no one to hold them accountable for themselves if they do not do what they promise to do. It is pretty difficult to hold yourself accountable, it takes a lot of self discipline which many people simply do not have, they also do not have enough motivation or dedication to the cause which makes it easy to always take the easy way out which is to eat rubbish and lead sedentary lives.

It is much better to make resolutions on days with more importance to you like your birthday or the day a loved one died so that when you place importance on that day and you take the resolutions you take seriously. It is also much better if you publicly announce to someone you care about what you want to change and accomplish and you tell them to push and remind you, something like a bet on something of value to you if you do not follow through on the things you promised to do in order to achieve the day you made the resolution.

Also another form of motivation you could use is to have some sort of reward for yourself or someone else if they actually accomplish what they resolved to do.
new years resolutions gym members are coming
Brace Yourselves loyal gym members the new years resolutions gym members are coming  ( pic from  http://fuckyeahcrossfit.tumblr.com)

Do Not Make New Years Resolutions 


I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, my goals are not usually determined by a year ending but by different time frames because all goals are not equal, some are short and require less time and effort than others. Also short goals ultimately fit into longer term goals. I believe everything we do is a building block until in the end you will have the final masterpiece. Please do not make resolutions you can’t keep, stop lying to yourselves. If you do make New Year’s resolutions make sure you put in all the effort, and surely you will achieve your goals, gaining muscle is not hard, losing weight is not hard millions or people have done it, millions more will do it, what is stopping you?

1 Year, 154 blogposts, 200 000 page views of fitness blogging


I remember I started this blog last year around this time of year; it was the 4th of December 2011. It was unintentional; I had never thought about writing about fitness and my progress for that matter let alone share it online with the world. I wanted to comment on a friend’s blog and he only allowed comments from other bloggers so I decided to start a blog of my own. It was easy for me to choose what to write about, I was living it, reading it and trying to share it with my friends and family, and some would have described me as fitness obsessed. All I thought about was the gym and improving my physique.

1 year 200 000 page views 154 blog posts

The beginning of Zulu Muscle Express


I wanted to share my progress in the hopes that it would inspire someone out there to going the gym for the first time or rejoin if they went to gym before. I wanted this blog to serve as a sort of gym motivation. Not only did I want to share my progress I wanted to provide people with other gym motivation such as fitness models, young bodybuilders and up and coming fitness models, fit girls, fit ripped dudes in sport and their female counterparts as well as fit females in the fitness industry for the ladies to be inspired and to provide some eye candy for the guys.

In the first month I had managed to write 12 blog posts and because the blog was new and I was not promoting it at the time I only managed to get about 205 page views, that was a small number but I was excited that people actually came to my sight and read what I wrote.

Blogging similarity to getting fit


From that first month when I received 205 page views I knew that if I wanted to grow the blog, I had to do a lot of work. So I began reading a lot about how to promote a blog online, I tried various methods and I am still doing some of the stuff I learnt during those early days. I realised that the more I wrote the more my traffic increased which means more and more people got inspired, or learnt something new or just read my story.

In fitness it’s just like in blogging  consistency is key, the only way to grow and get more muscle is to train hard week after week, to eat well and to eat enough week after week and to rest enough so you can recover and prevent injury week after week. In blogging you have to always learn new things, tweak old things and but mostly it’s about being consistent, getting one link won’t help you much you need many links, and social media shares to grow so you produce content that will get shared by people whether via links or social media links. Sometimes you work on getting your content out there so that people can easily find it but it takes long for you to see where all your hard work went just like you may work hard in the gym before you get results, before you get big.

The future


I passed the 200 000 page views mark a couple days ago and I was over the moon, I would have never even imagined that I would get so many page views especially  after that first month when I only got 205 page views for a whole month . For me it’s just like when I was skinny I would have never imagined myself gaining so much mass in such a short space of time. I would have been happy with 20 000 page views but I have gotten more page views than initially expected. I would like to grow this blog some more this next year and see what happens in the coming months, 2012 has been a great year and I wish everyone enjoys the festive season and makes in into 2013 more goal oriented so that we all achieve what we want in life.

Staying in Shape This Festive Season


It’s that time of the year again, the festive season. It is hard to stay in shape during the festive season because it brings with it celebratory feasts with loads of food, which is usually the kind of food you avoid throughout the year. If you had a festive season diet the whole year you would be obese, but it’s the time to be happy and with family and friends so a little food can’t hurt? Or can it?

staying fit this festive season
Festive season has arrived with all its gifts and food. How are you planning to stay fit this festive season?

Avoiding Getting Fat This Festive Season

During the festive season you don’t only eat a lot of food, but you eat a lot of junk food filled with empty calories which do nothing for you but make you fat. During the festive season people are together, relatives visit for afar and not much hard labour is done, time is spend catching up and reflecting on the year that has just past. The combination of the food and the relaxing sedentary period (the festive season) result in you getting fat, and going a couple steps backwards in terms of the progress you have made throughout the year.

Your Options to Stay Fit and Lean this Festive Season

It is difficult to stay lean during the festive season but it does not have to be, you have many fitness options and I will mention just a few so that you can maintain a killer body.

  • Do not stop your workout Program just because it’s the festive season, fitness is a lifestyle you don’t switch it on and off like a television, it’s always on. Besides working out need not be too time consuming, you will have enough time to hang with your loved ones (who spends their whole day with the same people without needing some alone time anyways).


  • Try to avoid drinking alcohol and if you can’t help it, do not binge drink, you are drinking to have a good time not to pass out and forget the events of your day.


  • Try to have the healthiest food options available at the festive feasts, also make sure that you eat small portions of food. Since you work out, you could eat small portions and have whatever else you want at a later stage maybe 2 hours apart so your body gets to use that food as energy and is less likely to be stored as fat and wasted. You don’t have to eat all the festive treats at once. If you are afraid they will get finished, save some for yourself in a lunch tin or something. Also eat slowly so your brain will register when you are full instead of eating till you are uncomfortable sitting in a chair and have to lie down.


  • Drink a lot of water; preferably ice water (apparently burns more calories) about an hour before your main meals to lose weight.


Top Fitness Models In South Africa

I always talk about the top fitness models in the world, and they are usually based in America and I have recently done a blog post on the top fitness models in the UK. Today I will be sharing with you some of the top fitness models in South Africa. They are in top shape and are up there with the rest of the world in terms of level of shreddedness. Bodybuilding and the fitness industry is not very popular in South Africa but it is on the rise and the number of fitness and bodybuilding competitions, sponsors and fitness magazines are increasing year in South Africa. There is a strong gym community in South Africa and I am sure with a bit more exposure the fitness industry will grow and become popular like it is in the UK and maybe like America some day. I have gone on a bit of a tangent there, so to get back to the topic here are some of South Africa's    top fitness models.

Top 3 Fitness Models In South Africa:



Jaco de Bruyn

Jaco de bruyn South African fitness model

Jaco de bruyn south african fitness model
Jaco de Bruyn At a FITness/Physique competition

Jaco de Bruyn is a model turned bodybuilder/fitness model. He is Mr. Physique 2012 at the Mr Body Beautiful fitness contest.

Jacques Fagan

Jacques Fagan S.A fitness model

Jacques Fagan South african usn sponsored fitness model
USN Sponsored fitness model Jacques Fagan
Jacques is the Mr SA 2012 best body and sportsman of the year.


Peter Gaiser

Peter Gaiser South African fitness model

Peter Gaiser South African Fitness model
Peter Gaiser looking shredded in his backyard

Peter is the South African Fitness model champion and a model universe competitor.



Peter is in this video as well as two other South African fitness models who went over to compete in america  in 2012.

50 Sit Ups per Web Page Read Challenge


I used to think that I did not like to read but I was wrong, I like to read articles and blog posts on the web, I just don’t like reading books in paperback. I sometimes find myself reading the archives of blogs that I find interesting, then checking back every time they are updated. Every day I will come across a website where I will read a dozen of its pages or more. I read mostly fitness, game and travel related blogs, I sometimes read historic articles and maybe some informative websites with random fun facts just for entertainment sake.  So I figured since I read so many articles per day, I might as well use that in some productive way to help me get in even better shape.

50 sit ups per web page read challenge
50 reps abs challenge

How to use your internet addiction to get ripped abs


I decided I am going to do 50 sit ups for every new web page I visit, I figure it’s a pretty interesting way to work out my abs. That would add up to many sit ups per day, but if I find that to be too many sit ups for the day, I would make it a set of 50 sit ups for every new blog/ website I visit because If I were to visit one website and read 20 pages that would mean I had to do 50*20 sit ups which is too much especially if I was still going to visit other websites. So if I were to read about 20 pages of one site I would rather do 50 sit ups per 3-5 pages.

Just so that I do not over work one section of my abs, I would target a different section of abs every day such as doing 2 minute planks between pages on other days and maybe oblique sit ups on other days, and bicycle kicks on other days just to make sure no abs section is ignored. 

I reckon one can get pretty ripped doing this especially if they are avid readers. You could apply this to reading books as well, if you are reading a 300 page book you could do maybe 50 reps of an abs exercise per 20 pages or something like that depending on your level of fitness.

Applying this to other body parts


This does not have to be for abs only; you could apply this strategy to pull ups, push ups and even squats. You could always do a set amount or you could always increase the amount of reps you do as you get used to the different workouts. You could also mix it all and make a whole body workout by doing a different abs exercise each day.  This strategy is similar to doing short exercises during ad breaks when you are watching your favourite TV shows.  

Bodybuilding: Watching Myself Transform into My Perfect Form


I love how exercising or lifting weights changes the body. It’s a beautiful thing to see, how it changes you slowly without you even noticing at times until months later when your body has completely transformed from that stick figure or amoeba it used to be to this muscle clad cartoon like figure.

transforming from an amoeba to super saiyan
Transforming from amoeba/stick figure to super saiyan

Changing like Caterpillar into a butterfly – From Amoeba/stick figure to Goku


I think just like other animals we go through phases in our transformation just like a butter fly comes into being, We may start out as kids, then teenagers then adults before we start getting old and useless. I feel like those phases of life are not the only phases we go through, we have a choice of whether to improve ourselves further whether it’s intellectually, spiritually or physically. This later phases are our personal choice; we have to decide to follow the herd or to differentiate ourselves by becoming the best we can be.

Going Super Saiyan


I liken bodybuilding to being a Saiyan in Dragon Ball Z, by working out we aim to be the best and strongest that we can physically be, working out enables us to get closer to what our perfect form might be just as the harder a Saiyan trains the stronger he gets and the stronger he gets the more it is likely that he will transform into a Super Saiyan, Super Saiyan 2 and so on.

Bodybuilding and lifting weights is the closest thing to being super human for me, the closest thing to being super hero like (even if only by looks). As a kid I always fantasised about being the strongest most muscular guy in the world, and lifting weights is the closest things that reminds me of that feeling and makes my body resemble what a strong man should look like little by little.

Physical Improvement is Visual – I’m a Visual Being


Other people get a high from being the smartest, knowing a lot about a certain topic and consuming information by the book loads. That is one way to improve yourself intellectually and I am no stranger to that as I feel to be a complete being one needs to improve all aspects of their life. I just prefer bodybuilding and the visual change it causes.  Everyone witnesses your transformation, some may not like the change but who cares you can’t please everyone and the most important thing as with any transformation is that you are doing it for yourself.

There is no better feeling then the feeling you get when you look back at your progress by looking at your progress pictures. Putting your latest picture next to your first picture before you began your fitness transformation, causes a great feeling of achievement and brings back a flood of memories about how you got to where you are now. I love a physical transformation for this reason because there is no need for words that before and after picture tells the story of hard work, consistency, struggle and dedication to your continued growth.

Weighted Abdominal Workouts – Next Level of Ripped


Most abs exercises are body-weight exercises, and they are very effective in giving most people the kind of abs they want but for those who want those thick abs with the deep cuts without having to do too many reps the easiest route to take is to use weights when working out your abs.
serratus anterior for ripped physique
Image of serratus anterior from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serratus_anterior_muscle

Fitness models use weights to assist them to get those shredded abs, as well as to get those shredded serratus muscles on their ribs. One of my favourite fitness models is David Kimmerle, I have never seen a guy who was more ripped than him. He has those thick and divided abs that most guys who are into working out want, he uses weights or cable machines to thicken his abs. 
David Kimmerle Deep Cut Abs
David Kimmerle Deep Cut Abs



           
Weighted abs exercises allow you to get the same burn effect that you would get from many reps of body weight abs exercises like sit ups and crunches in a shorter period of time. Doing abs exercises does not have to take a long time, you could do 15 minutes of abs work after a workout and use a combination of body weight abs training (e.g hanging leg raises) and weighted abs training to get the best value/results for your time.

Here are a few examples of weighted abs exercises:


  • Cable Wood Choppers
  • Machine Crunch
  • Oblique machine twist
  • Twisted cable baseball
  • Weighted crunches

Remember to exercises your abs every other day and to always target all 3 regions of your abs which are upper abs, lower abs and obliques.

Lifting Sets Faq – Understanding Fitness Lingo


If you are a newbie and are searching through books or reading web pages on the internet there are often many fitness terms (fitness lingo) that you will come across that you may not understand.  So today I am going to explain what some of the most common fitness terms mean regarding the different types of weight  lifting sets.
                              
If you are a fitness veteran then this post is obviously not for you, this blog post is meant to clear up some terms for people just starting out who either don’t know what these terms mean, or use these techniques of training these terms represent but just did not know what it was called. So here are some terms you will come across very often in your muscle building journey....

Kirill Chayka Greek god aesthetics, type of sets to build muscle
Kirill Chayka Greek God Aesthetics
Photo From his FB:http://www.facebook.com/ChaykaKirill
Learn the different types of sets to use for Greek god like muscle growth.

Popular lifting terms:


A set – This refers to the amount of repetitions of a particular exercise you will do without taking a break. For  example if you are doing bicep curls if you do 10 repetitions of the curling motion without a break between the reps then you stop at 10 because you could not lift anymore or were really struggling, that is your first set. You take a short break and you might do another set of 10 reps. for that particular workout you could end up doing 4 sets of 10 bicep curling repetitions.

Warm-up Sets – warm-up sets are sets done with a lighter weight before you start your actual exercise so that you get the blood flowing to your target muscle, and loosen up your joints so that you don’t injure yourself. You do not do warm up sets to failure but you can increase the weight a little with each warm up set.

A super set – a super set is when you do two sets one after the other without taking a break between them.

A circuit – A circuit is when you do 3 sets or more following each other without taking a break between the sets. (These sets usually target different muscles groups of course otherwise you would not be able to handle it)

Pyramid Set – are sets in which you go from a lighter weight with higher number of reps to heavier weight with a lower number of reps with each set. Reverse pyramid sets the opposite of pyramid sets.

A drop set – this is a set performed using a lower weight used to continue a workout after failure is reached at a higher weight. For example if you are using a 30kg dumbbell for doing the bicep curl for the first set then you decrease the weight to 25kg for the second set and 20 kg for the third set. One way to do drop sets is to do each set till failure or you could just drop the weight and increase the number of reps in each set. A drop set may also be referred to as a strip set when you keep stripping plates of the bar with each weight decrease, or running the rack.

Forced Reps – these are done straight after reaching failure with the aid of a partner/spotter to assist you in lifting the weight, they should assist you as little as possible, just knowing someone is there is often good enough to make you think they are actually helping you a lot which motivates to push even more and actually get the most out of those forced reps.

Negative Reps – Are when a partner helps you lift an extremely heavy weight but you have to control it down by yourself, or you use both legs or ups to lift a heavy weight up but only use one to bring it down another method is when you lift a weight up fast and bring it down slow and controlled.

Giant Set – When a single muscle group is targeted using 4 sets of different exercises one after the other with little to no rest time between the sets to reach failure, when muscle fatigue is reached mid set the weight is dropped to a lower weight and the workout continues.

Most of these more complex types of training sets are used to shock your muscles into more growth and are often done by experienced lifters; they should not be done often but only used as methods to break through plateaus.

Why Do You Want To Get Shredded?



So this is a pretty straight forward question, why do you want to get shredded? You see like anything in life, if you do something there is usually a reason for you doing it. The reason could be because your doctor said you need to lose weight, you saw a ripped celebrity and wanted to look like them, you enjoy working out, and you want to attract the opposite sex and so on. It’s important to know why you doing it since it affects how seriously you will take your goal to get shredded.

Stephen Amell Ripped super hero body
Stephen Amell had a good reason to get all ripped up to super hero level,  to lend the role of a super hero he had to get that classic super hero body (developed shoulders and chest with a ripped 6 pack). Check out his workout http://weightlossandtraining.com/stephen-amell-workout-green-arrow

Why You Should Have a Good Reason to Want to Get Shredded


Having a good reason makes it easier to stick to a tough nutritional and workout regimen. If you are getting shredded because you want to look and feel great then you have a higher chance of reaching your shredded goal then if you are doing it just to get girls. Also if you are doing it because your girlfriend or boyfriend is always telling you how fat you are compared to others, then that probably will not last because if you really want to change you yourself have to realise that there is a problem. As long as it’s others that see an issue with your body, and not you all you will get from it is depression and have a low self esteem, their negative comments will not necessarily motivate you to get in shape, the discouragement will probably drive you to eat even more and get even more overweight (it’s sad but it happens often).

Celebrities usually get in shape because their lively hood depends on it, and that is good enough inspiration in itself, getting fit could be the one thing standing between them and instant wealth and fame. Take Taylor Lautner for example he is this famous today because he got in shape, getting a great body was his way to get his career to the next level, had he not gotten buff for twilight then the role would have been given to someone else. Through getting buff he got the job, the increased fame and now has millions of girls around the world who are crazy about him and millions of guys who want to be like him and gain some muscle.

Getting buff for girls is not really a good reason because nobody really knows what they want, you do not need to be buff to get girls, some of the best pick up guys in the world are not guys you would call the most attractive or fit for that matter. If you want girls you are better served just being confident, funny, nice, and well groomed then being just shredded. Getting shredded is a lot of work to do; it’s not something to be taken lightly so if you want to attract the opposite sex there are easier ways to do that.

Get Shredded for the Right Reasons, and You Shall Reap the Rewards


If you truly have a good reason for wanting to get shredded, you will have the right inspiration to work hard every day. You will not give up easily because you know that the end goal is worth it and that getting fit and ripped is your choice. If you accept getting ripped as a lifestyle change and not just a short term goal it will be easier to achieve your goals and keep the body you worked hard for once you get there. One last thing, many times we begin our fitness journey’s for one reason, right or wrong reasons but in the end we fall in love with the gym and how it changes our bodies and how it makes us feel, so work out for long enough and before you know it, you are addicted.  

Juggling School and Gym - Dumbbell vs Textbook


Trying to find a balance between school and gym can be difficult, especially if you are in university. It can be tricky fitting in all the study time and having an effective gym schedule, depending on your course load you may have very little time during your weekdays to go to the gym. Also going to class can take a lot of your energy and leave you without energy at the end of your school day, but they always say that one should learn to juggle school and a social life to enjoy school, adding gym to that equates to a very busy day/week.

School and gym - dumbbell vs text book
Dumbbell one hand, text book other hand

Finding Time to Workout


As a student you will find that not all days are the same, some days are more hectic than others. You should therefore do a workout split that compliments your school time table, for example if you have 3 practicals during the afternoon per week then you should have your workouts on less demanding days. If you are very busy you could do a 3 day split instead of working out 5 days a week. If you live close to the gym, you may find that you may be able to work out as much as you like if you schedule your workouts for the morning, you may find that this provides a perfect start to the day for you. Another option is to have your workouts at night when you have had some time to recover mentally from your school day.

If you really love the gym and consider it your hobby then maybe fitting in some lifting time during the weekend will suit you best. It would allow you to rest your muscles during the week and rest your brain a little during the weekend. It all depends on what your fitness goals are if you simply want to get fit, then it does not take much effort or time to get in good shape (it’s as simple as doing morning push-ups and sit-ups or pull ups before you sleep, which is not a lot of work). If you really want to pack on some muscle, the less time you have the more you have to make the little time you have count (you could do this by using a workout split that suits your study schedule as stated above and having short but intense workout sessions instead of longer sessions with long rest periods in between sets). 

Energy Levels throughout the Day


If you find that you cannot workout because by the end of your school day, you have no energy, it would be wise to revise your nutrition plan. What you eat supplies energy to your body; if you do not eat the right foods then you will not have energy at the end of your long school day. To have energy to lift at the end of your school day, you must not skip breakfast (it sets up your whole day, if you start your day off on a low, then it is very difficult for things to pick up after that (energy wise)).
Also do not skip any meals; you will need that energy especially if you are going to lift later in the day. Having snacks like some fruits and nuts between larger meals can help with your energy levels, plus if you want to gain mass little healthy snacks help you reach your daily macronutrient intake goals. If you can afford to buy supplements using pre-workout supplements can help you boost energy levels at the end of your school day so that you have the energy you need to have an awesome lifting session. Some people use coffee as a pre-workout, try it out and see if it helps you (get strong coffee, not some weak instant coffee). 

Exam Time – Studying and Working Out Between Exams


Exam time can be very stressful and a lot of students cannot do anything but study during exam time, so some people may find it easier just to take a break from gym during the exam period. Resting during the exam period could help you grow and break through plateaus when you get back to gym after exams. Also resting during exams, saves you time since you do not have to travel to the gym, workout and get tired and still study afterwards.

On the other hand some people find the gym very therapeutic, in that it helps them focus and it helps them to relieve stress and to calm down. So if you are studying and you are finding your studies overwhelming then maybe a little cardio or a gym session is what you need to give your brain a break, relax and then go reassess your books with fresh eyes after your gym session.

Remember that the key points are to have a workout plan that compliments your school schedule, to eat well so that you are well energized and workout during exams if it helps you relieve stress or take some time off from gym during exams if that is more beneficial to you. 

Working Out Wherever You Are - The Power of Body-weight Exercises

I remember the first time I saw a Hannibal Video on YouTube  I was amazed at the things and the body weight workouts he was able to do using resources that are available in most community parks, resources like jungle gyms etc.

If you have never seen a Hannibal video, here is one with him and Barilla doing their thing as usual.


Getting Ripped Using Body-weight Exercises



I have written a lot about body-weight exercises in the past and I will link to those posts at the end of this post , I have also written about my own personal experiences from using body-weight training. I believe that body-weight training can be a very effective way to build a lean muscular physique like the physiques of male gymnasts and people who do complex and simple body-weight exercises like the ones done in the video above.

To get results from doing body-weight exercises one must be consistent and like with weights people do progressive overload, with body-weight exercises, you have to progressively increase the difficulty and intensity of your body-weight exercises.

You have to progress from normal shoulder width push ups to close grip push ups, to doing 100 rep sets, to being able to do one arm push ups, you have to progress from doing body weight squats to doing pistols (single legged squats), you have to progress from doing pull ups/ chin ups and simple abs exercises like hanging leg raises and sit ups to being able to do front levers. My point is the more you do body weight, exercises the stronger and more lean muscle you gain but that means you have to do more difficult exercises, higher reps, shorter breaks, or no breaks at all so that you challenge yourself and bring your body to the next level.

Related Posts:

Short Intense Home Workout
Being Active Goes A Long Way
Get A Body Like A Heavyweight Boxer
Aim For The Body of a Gymnast
The Reason Why Bodyweight Exercises Don't Make You Bigger

Here is another pair who do some amazing things and have managed to build great aesthetic bodies using just their body weight to train, the Bar Brothers. Watch this to see their inspirational transformation.

Hardcore 6 Pack Abs Guide


Getting hardcore 6 pack abs (or the rare 8 pack abs) is something that most people would like. Each day on Tumblr I see people posting and reblogging images of guys and girls with shredded 6 pack abs, those images are always paired with captions describing how they plan on getting a midsection like the one in the picture or a quote to motivate themselves to keep working hard in the gym and to stay strong nutrition wise so that they can avoid bad eating habits.

Road to getting 6 pack abs – Where to start?


We are all different so our roads to getting abs will never be the same. Let us say you are fat or overweight, the way you go about getting ripped abs will not be the same as someone who is skinny and wants to have thick well developed abs. Each of us reacts differently to different foods, I know guys who eat whatever they like and still have great bodies with a great set of 6 pack abs but many people cannot eat what they want whenever they want if they want abs because doing so will result in fat gain for the average Joe/Jane. You need to know yourself and how your body reacts to a certain way of eating.
Guide to hardcore abs
Road to ripped 6 pack abs

The statement “Abs Are made In the Kitchen” is a half truth


If you did not exercise and ate very healthy “clean” foods you would not have the kind of abs you see in Hollywood stars, and fitness models. That is because abs are not made in the kitchen. It is true that we naturally have abs which are hidden by a layer of fat on our stomachs, it is also true that eating clean can help us lose that layer of fat but if you do not do abs exercises those natural abs hidden under your belly fat will not be too impressive.  I support the famous words “abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen,” tough you could probably take out the words gym because abs are one body part that certainly does not need a gym to develop. So I believe that abs are developed and thickened through abs exercises and other exercises that involve your core indirectly, and are revealed through proper nutrition and doing cardio (for most people anyways).

Nutrition for Ripped Abs


I am of the belief that the best diet is one that you can easily maintain for a prolonged period of time. The way you eat needs to be sustainable and not short term, so you need to make life long changes to the way you eat, not temporary changes which will only give you results only when you choose to stick with that short term diet. You need to eat in a way that will help you lose unnecessary belly fat, but in a way that you would like to continue eating without craving all of the foods of your previous nutritional lifestyle.

Some people use low carb diets and there are many benefits of low carb diets, others use low fat diets, it does not matter which diet you use as long as it is the kind of diet you are willing to make a part of your life style (here is a comparison of the two diet models low carb vs low fat – retire the fad).  I personally like to eat a balanced diet, a diet which does not dramatically decrease one macronutrient as opposed to another. I find that having a balanced diet is the easiest to maintain, mixed with regular training it can give great results.

Also note that the key to losing and gaining fat is the amount of calories that you consume, if you consume more than you need than you will gain fat/weight, whereas if you consume less than you need to maintain your current bodyweight than you will lose fat/weight. Whether you are eating good foods or bad foods, if you eat too much food no matter what food that is you will get fat. It’s not fats that make you fat; if you eat too many carbs then you will also get fat. I guess I like the IIFYM (if it fits your macros) kind of nutrition plan.

Also if you are not overweight and want to find a way to get ripped and stay ripped, then you could look into intermittent fasting, maybe that is the most suitable thing for you and not the traditional dieting but rather the intermittent fasting model of playing around with eating periods.

The key is finding a nutrition plan that you are comfortable with, a meal plan that suits you the best. Dieting is no child’s play and it is definitely not for the weak. Also if you are going to start a diet do not go from eating whatever you like to eating a highly restrictive diet the next day, if you do that you are setting yourself up for failure. Slowly change the way you eat to make your transition easier, you don’t go from 1st gear to 5th in one gear change, slowly drop the bad foods as you also slowly introduce the good foods to your diet.

Developing those ripped abs


This is the most fun part of building your 6 pack abs. There are many ways to go about getting your abs thickened but the way that is most effective is to develop an abs exercise plan which targets all the regions of your abs from your upper abs and lower abs to your oblique’s so that you have that dream midsection.

Abs recover quickly so it is best to work your midsection as often as you can, at least about 3 times a week if you really want Greg Plitt like 8 pack abs. At first you will only do a few abs exercises like crunches and you will struggle but push through the pain, your abs will be in pain for the next couple of days even though you did not do that many sets or reps for that matter, but as always your body will adapt and you will need to do more sets and more reps to achieve the same effect the next time.

I have written a lot about abs and shared many abs exercises; you can start by doing this hardcore abs workout. The idea is to do exercises that target each region of your abs, whether you mix the abs exercises for all the regions or you workout one abs region per ab workout day is up to you. Also you do not need a lot of time to do ab workouts. You could do them in the morning when you wake up, after your workouts (for other body parts) or just before you sleep, it all depends on you.

The people with the most developed thick abs with those deep cuts usually lift weights, the heavy lifting involves a lot of core work so doing heavy squats, dead-lifts, barbell shrugs and so on is a great way to indirectly work out and thicken your abs.
Best hardcore ripped 6 pack abs guide
Training with intensity can burn fat to reveal 6 pack abs

If diet and abs exercises don’t reveal your solid abs, turn to cardio


I was used to be skinny and had abs without doing any cardio, I also bulked up and do not do any cardio and had ripped abs so you don’t always have to do cardio in order to lose the belly fat. Sometimes training a very high intensity can give you great results without doing cardio, look at Adam Charlton for example he is super ripped and does not do cardio.

 For other people even after doing abs exercises, and eating well they still do not have the desired midsection that is when you have to go one step further and do some cardio to burn that belly fat so your hard work is revealed. The key to doing cardio is to choose a type of cardio that you enjoy be it a morning jog to help you start your day, a hectic dance session if you got the moves or a weekly soccer game with your mates to get your heart pumping. If you enjoy it, it will be something you look forward to which will help you to do it regularly and get ripped in the process.

Train and connect with like-minded people


If you have a partner or a supportive community that could motivate you to push harder and inspire you when you feel like giving up. Training with a partner can give you an edge, you two could be competitive with one another to see who could do more reps and sets; you could support each other and encourage each other to push on, as well as hold each other accountable so you deliver on your promises to yourself and to your partner. Together with a partner you could set weekly goals and help each other reach those goals for example setting goals liking increasing the amount of reps you can do for each abs exercise by 25 per week or increasing your plank time.

I have seen many people on twitter thank the #fitfam for their support; it is amazing how influential people from across the world can be. Every month they come up with new goals such as #SquatSeptember last month and I have seen people doing #OctoAbs this month; they encourage each other by sharing workouts, diets and progress pictures. 

I hope this post has helped you somehow, realize that getting abs can be made easier by doing things that you enjoy, having a sustainable diet , working all abs regions often and by embracing the fitness family and the power of community.


10 Best Ways to Go From Skinny to Buff


The Ultimate Skinny Guy Guide to Gaining Muscle


If you are skinny and want to gain some weight (muscle) this is the blog post for you. There is no problem being skinny if that is how you like to be, but if you are the guy who has tried eating a lot but failed to gain any mass, if you are the guy who has been teased by others and rejected by chicks just because you were too skinny then I will share with you some very useful methods to increase your weight by gaining muscle. A note before you continue reading on, if you are lazy and think this will be easy then you can stop reading this right now and stay the way you are.

ways to go from skinny to buff
My transformation from skinny to buff - skinny 143lbs to muscular  176lbs

Change Begins In Your Mind


If you want to gain muscle, then the first thing you need to do is to prepare yourself mentally for the lifestyle change you want to undergo, because being skinny and being muscular with T-shirt muscles are at two opposite ends of the spectrum. In order to gain weight you are going to have to make a lot of lifestyle changes and sacrifice some of your time so that you are able to gain and maintain muscle. Gaining muscle is not as easy as gaining fat, so do not think you can just eat whatever you want to eat... more on this later on in this article.

Be Goal Oriented


To gain functional muscle and transform from your previous skinny weak self into a new buff you, you need to learn to set goals for yourself. You need to have an ultimate goal, and then you need to make smaller short term goals which will together make sure you get to your ultimate goal. You cannot make silly goals like gaining 10kg in one week; you need to understand that you need to set realistic goals for yourself such as gaining maybe 0,5kg per week. What you also need to realize is that not all mass you gain will be muscle but when you want to gain mass to look aesthetic at the end of your bulk you need to maximize muscle gain and minimize fat gain (this shall be discussed later on).

Start Off With Body-weight Exercises


It is quite obvious that if you want to gain muscle mass then you need to work out. If you are skinny and just want to gain weight through eating and it has not been working, then the best way to do it is to exercise. If you did manage to gain weight through eating and not exercising, the weight gain from that would have been fat gain, which would just make you look chubby/fat and I do not think that is how anyone wants to look (that is worse than being naturally skinny, health wise anyways).

I recommend that when you have no previous experience with exercise and lifting weights that you start off by just doing body weight exercises. What this will do is it will prepare you for when you do start lifting weights in the gym. It will prepare you for the gym by providing a foundation of muscle and strength developed through doing body-weight training, allow you to be able to lift heavier weights at the gym which you will not have managed without prior exposure to working out. The basic body-weight exercises to start building some muscles and strength are push ups, which are great for your chest, arms and shoulders, dips which are great for your triceps and chest, pull ups/chin ups which are great for your upper back and your arms as well as increasing your grip strength, body weight squats and lunges which target your legs. You can also do some abs exercises to strengthen your core which will be vital for heavy lifting to gain mass, plus a pair of 6 pack abs adds the finishing touches to a great body. There are other body-weight exercises but those should be adequate enough to form a good foundation.

You will find that if you are a person who does not have any previous experience with working out, you will gain some muscle from doing body-weight exercises, and you will see you body start to shape up. You will also notice that your strength will increase and you will need to increase the intensity or number of reps of your exercises to make them more challenging. You may start doing weighted body-weight exercises to get the most out of them; this is the point when you need to move on to the next step which will bring a lot of growth.

Lifting Weights is the Best Way to Gain Muscle


The easiest way to gain muscle is lifting weights, but doing body-weight exercises first makes sure you have enough strength and muscle to get the most out of your weight training. When you start lifting weights its best to leave your ego at the door, you must realize that you are not in a competition with anyone and that you should lift weights that serve the purpose of your workout and not try to be the heaviest lifter in the gym.

Trying to lift weights that you cannot handle is stupid and will only lead to injuries which could set you back by months or even years before you are fully recovered. To get the best results always train using weights that you can handle, but not weights that are easy for you to lift. Do not use a 60kg (135lbs) weight when you could handle more than that. The key is to lift a weight you can handle but a weight such that if you are doing 10 reps with it, you will be struggling by the time you reach 10.

Start Off With a Compound Exercise Workout Plan


It’s not a necessity but it will serve you well. Compound exercises are workouts such as the squat, the dead-lift, the farmers walk, the pull up, the bench press, bent over rows and the dumbbell/barbell clean and press. Compound exercise workout your whole body and workout mainly your large muscle groups, since compound exercises are whole body exercises if you are on a compound exercises program you probably only workout at most 3 times per week because you need the other 3 days to fully recover from this taxing whole body workout. You will find that the compound exercises and the long rest periods will give you great mass growth because of the recovery period as well as the fact that working out large body parts like your back and legs is believed to increase the secretion of hormones like growth hormone and testosterone which help to build muscle.

You will find that as you get stronger, that you will be able to lift heavier weights, and you will want to maximize growth in all body parts so you will need to change this workout plan to a different kind of split that allows for more focus on individual body parts and more rest time for each body-part as one day between workout days will not be enough if you are working out the same body-part with heavy weights.

Choosing a Workout Split to Suit Your Lifestyle


Now that you have gained the basic through body weight training and compound exercises, you are ready for a more advanced workout plan. If you do not have time, you could have a two day workout split which divides the body into two and you workout both halves with enough days between the workout days. This two day workout split does not necessarily need to be an upper body day and a lower body day because that is a bad system because that would mean you work out chest, shoulders, back, abs, and arms on one day and only legs during the next workout day. You could split the body parts by putting back, legs and abs on workout day 1 and chest, shoulders and arms on workout day two for example.

The other split you could use is the 3 day workout split whereby you put chest, shoulders and triceps on day 1, back and biceps on day 2 and legs on day 3.

And then there is a 4 day split, where you could match exercises that complement each other on the same day, Arnold Schwarzenegger once said he liked training chest and back on the same day because noting felt better than having a chest pump and a back pump at the same time. The chest uses primarily a pushing motion in chest exercises and back workouts use a pulling motion so that could complement each other.  Also remember when working out chest your shoulders are also indirectly worked out and when you work out your shoulders, your chest is indirectly worked out. When you work out your back your arms are worked out, especially your biceps, also when you workout chest your arms are worked out, when you do close grip chest exercises or dips your triceps are worked out. These are all just things to consider if you can only manage 4 days to work out and want to combine certain body parts.

For people who have a lot of time or can make time, you could work out one body part per day. This would give each body part the maximum time to recover, and allow you to focus fully on that body part on each workout day.

10 Ways to go from Skinny to Buff
Young Arnold Schwarzenegger posing his huge biceps.
"The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens" ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger 


Eat More Food Than You Normally Eat


If you want to gain mass then you are going to have to eat more food (calories) than you normally eat, a lot more (caloric surplus). Working out is going to help in this department by making you hungry all the time. The easiest way to eat more food is to have many smaller meals throughout the day so you don’t have to eat 3 huge meals each day.  Instead of 3 meals a day, you should have 5 or 6 meals a day. If you are a skinny hard gainer it does not matter what you eat but if you want the best results you should eat healthy balanced meals with good fats, a lot of protein as well as carbohydrates. Each of these foods has its own nutritional benefits. Out of the 5 meals one or two of those meals could be a supplement shake such as a whey protein shake or a snack such as a cup of walnuts or a peanut butter sandwich. Taking supplements can help you if you find it difficult to get enough protein in your diet each day, or if you find it hard to eat an increased amount of chicken, beef, fish, nuts etc. You may find a protein shake easier to consume or cheaper than buying loads of chicken/fish etc.

Be Consistent


Eat as clean as you possibly can most of the time, most people allow themselves a cheat meal during the week so that they have something to look forward to. Go to the gym consistently don’t go one week stop for two weeks and go again because that only takes you backwards. Being consistent will make sure you keep gaining strength and you keep lifting heavier which means you will consistently be breaking down and rebuilding bigger and stronger muscles which in turn means that you will get bigger. Without the consistency in the kitchen and the gym you should not expect consistent muscle gains. Discipline is key here, if you really want to get results you will put in the hard work consistently, and day by day your hard work and dedication will start showing.

Use the Proper Lifting Techniques


Oh and before I forget the most important part about lifting weights is not only the amount of weight (whether it is challenging) but also if you are lifting it properly with the correct form. If you lift weight the right way you get maximum growth from each workout you do but if you are lifting the wrong way and your technique is faulty, you are risking getting injured, you are not getting the full benefits of the workout either because you are not using the full range of motion, or are using momentum to assist you or other ways people cheat themselves out of muscle gains. Watch videos on YouTube if you want to learn how to lift weight read workout magazines and don’t be afraid to ask someone at your gym or a more experienced friend.

Stop Following everyone’s Instructions


There are many methods to gain muscle out there, and I am sure most of them work. Fitness magazines and blogs come out with new ways to help hard gainers gain muscle each month but that is just to sell copies and get more visitors. What you need to do is to find a method you like and stick with it for a while so you can get the best results from that program. When you mix program that do not complement each other and you do not get results, you have no one but yourself to blame.

You cannot follow everyone at the same time.  One person will tell you to you the IIFYM (if it fits your macros way of dieting) telling you to eat 5-6 times per day whereas another will teach you to use intermittent fasting where you don’t eat breakfast and only have an 8 hour eating window every 24 hours, both of these strategies work and have worked for many people but you have to chose one and stick with it to get the best results from it.

I have done it and I know that you too can do it. You do not need luck just hard, smart  and consistent work.


Fitness Goal Setting For Serious Individuals


Fitness is just like any other field, in order to succeed you need to know what you want and then from that point know or plan how you are going to achieve those goals you set. You see most successful people are not lucky they have achieved success because they plan ahead and take all necessary steps to ensure that their goals are met. What do you think top bodybuilders do in between Olympia’s? What do you think aspiring fitness models do so that they can one day be as successful as Greg Plitt?

Lou Ferrigno was aiming for the top spot in bodybuilding looking beastly
Lou Ferrigno gave Arnold a run for his money back in the day, the guy was a beast


"Goals that are not written are just wishes" ~ unknown

What is the first step of goal setting towards acquiring the physique of your dreams?


The first step is to wake up and realise that you cannot just wish that you had a great body. You have to wake up and be prepared to work hard to achieve what you want. You have to come up with an action plan, so that you have some sort of strategy as to how you are going to tackle these goals. You have to set achievable goals for yourself, not silly unrealistic goals like you are going to have a six pack in 10 days when you have a beer belly.

Writing down your goals and documenting your progress


You have to write down your goals, writing down your goals makes it real; it makes sure that you keep yourself accountable. You could brainstorm what kind of workout you are doing, what kind of food you will be eating, how many times you will be working out.

Writing down your goals is like taking progress pictures, it gives you a clear picture of what you have to do, it also allows you to come back in future to analyse what you did right and what you did wrong because in the fitness world you are always learning and pick up new things and you make adjustments in accordance to your lifestyle. You could also use that goal setting book to write down goals and when you achieve them you could strike through those goals and write new ones and like progress pictures these achieved goals serve as inspiration that shows just how far you have come. This helps you push on further and harder.

"Goals are dreams with deadlines." ~ Diana Scharf Hunt 


Set deadlines for yourself


There is no use in having goals that have an infinite time limit that is like having no goals at all.  If you want to be the guy with the heaviest bench press, you will not just go try lifting the record heaviest weight ever bench pressed. You will start off at the beginning maybe only managing to bench press 135lbs (60kg), but you will set little achievable goals for yourself so that ultimately you will be lifting that record bench press of over 440lbs (200kg) one day. You will say to yourself this week I am going to lift 135lbs, then each week I will try and increase my lift by 5lbs-10lbs, train hard, eat well,  get enough rest and record how much you manage to do with each lift. The next step will be to achieve equal to or more than you did the last time, to make sure that you are making progress (that is why it is important to write your goals and achievements down so you have a frame of reference for each lift you do).

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” ~ Muhammad Ali

Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it


“Nothing is impossible; the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”~ Audrey Hepburn

Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. You have to believe that you can achieve your goals, because if you don’t believe in yourself, if you doubt yourself you will not fully commit, you will procrastinate. Anything is possible if you really want it, you have to image yourself being your ripped self even before you get to that point, you have to believe that if others can do it, so can you. You may be overweight and have been that way your whole life but the minute you decide to stop dreaming and start working you have to believe you are strong enough to resist the temptation of having junk food, the temptation to have midnight snacks, you have to be strong enough to eat smaller portion even when you want to have more.

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” ~ Eric Thomas

Everyone can succeed if they win the battle in their heads and that victory is translated in action by the body. Start believing in...YOU!