Why You're Not Gaining . . .
And What To Do About It!!
Have you ever noticed that most men who take up progressive weight training and change their diet, either fail or fall short of their goals? There are two general reasons for this.
First, no one seems to know what they're doing.
Second, you don't make great gains by training and ingesting large amounts of protein. You make great gains by ingesting fat and eliminating what you've ingested in the way of starches and other devitalized foods. Anyone who thinks he's going to achieve 19" arms--without steroids--by swilling gallons of protein is simply deluding himself.
Let's take it from the top, starting with common training mistakes and common dietary mistakes. Once you understand what won't work, then I'll explain what will work.
How do I know all this?
Thirty years of training bodybuilders is how. My star pupil years ago went from 180 lbs. to 225 lbs. in nine (9) months. I've trained half a dozen men at once, stuck on a 220-230 lb. bench press and--in 9 months--had them up to 350 lbs.
That's when I was doing a lot of things wrong. My latest trainee--in thirty days--gained eleven (11) pounds of muscular body weight. You can literally see him grow before your eyes. No steroids.
You can do the same thing--I don't care if you're 24, 42, or 60. Let's list and explain the common mistakes first, eliminate them, and then I'll explain how to pack on the pounds.
This has to be the most common training (not diet) error. If you can't finish a workout in 45 minutes to an hour, you're wasting your time and cluttering up the gym unnecessarily. There is a real easy way to determine if this is one of your problems.
When you finish a workout, are your fingers trembling slightly? If so, you are no longer working on your muscles--you are now working on your nerves, which will then interfere with your ability to digest food.
How? Ever hit yourself on the thumb with a hammer? Notice how you get that sick, queasy feeling in your stomach? The nerves connect.
Overtraining usually consists of either too much weight (it's an exercise, not a contest) or too little weight lifted too many times. The idea is to exercise and stimulate the muscles, not destroy (weight) or annoy (sets and repetitions) them.
Light Weights and Frivolous Exercises
As you may have noticed, the old Puritan work ethic is gone. Whatever happened to "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" [Ecclesiastes 9:10]?
"Work" has become the ultimate four-letter obscenity. Men actually go into the gym thinking they can build big muscles with small weights. I see them all the time--they attempt to bulk themselves up with concentration curls and chest laterals--with light dumbbells.
It takes heavy weights used to stimulate the large muscle groups to build large muscles and gain large quantities of muscular body weight in an hour or less. Arthur Jones tried to point all this out a generation ago but very few people listened. Some of the books in which he pointed this out are now collectors items.
Every time I hear someone in a gym say, "I need another half-hour to work my triceps", it's a major effort on my part to keep quiet. I have to bite my tongue.
Most men start with the heavier exercises, such as the bench-press, and then work down to the lighter exercises. Then, once in a while, some of them will finish off with a waist exercise or two.
This sequence is half correct, at least. You always--always--start with your waist exercise. Why?
Mits Kawashima taught me this in 1966. I got out of the army in 1964. When I started training, my body weight was 160. Eighteen months later I weighed 190. My body weight fluctuated between 185 and 190 before Mits took me under his wing. Life was really frustrating. I could not get past 190.
Mits started me with four sets of sit-ups, 25 reps per set. Then I went to the weights. In five (5) months I went 190 to 235. My bench-press went from 220 to 340 in the same period of time.
Mits taught me other things, as have other people, that I'm now passing on to you. You may not have heard of Mits Kawashima outside of Honolulu, Hawaii, where he currently lives and operates a health food store.
You've probably heard of his partner: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
There are so many exercises and there are so many ways to do an exercise wrong that the only way to avoid these pitfalls is with a personal trainer. Provided, of course, you can find one who knows what he's doing.
An example of this is a fellow I saw years ago doing an exercise and bragging that he was "using the same weight as Reg Park". Reg Park at that time was almost as well known as Steve Reeves, having won the Mr. Universe a short time before.
Mac MacFarland, the 1963 "Mr. Hawaii" winner, looked at this guy contemptuously and asked him, "If a pudgy nobody like you is handling the same weight in the same exercise that Reg Park is, don't you think that maybe you're doing the exercise wrong?"
A personal trainer's first responsibility is to keep you from hurting yourself. Anyone who has trained for any length of time knows how much you lose when you hurt yourself. If you hire a personal trainer and he manages to hurt you--or causes you to hurt yourself--you have a very good idea of how well your trainer is qualified.
Nutrition is a vast field. There are truckloads of books on the subject. Read them if you like. What you're about to read here are the facts that the popular books will not tell you.
By this I don't mean food that has dirt in it. I'm referring to food that simply wasn't designed to be processed by the human digestive system, primarily certain types of meats.
Yuk, you're thinking, a "veggie". Wrong. There are clean meats and unclean meats. Clean meats are those that come from herbivorous mammals that divide the hoof and chew a cud. In seafood, clean meats are those that have fins and scales. Clean and unclean food is a study in itself. E.g., turkey and chicken are clean, ostrich and vulture are unclean.
In mammals, unclean meats are the scavengers, or predators. I.e., you're eating second-hand garbage. Pork is perhaps the worst. In addition to what a pig will eat--in our Civil War, pigs chewing on dead and wounded soldiers was a real problem--pigs carry the trichinosis worm and its meat is extremely greasy. This grease coats your digestive organs.
The problem with grease coating your digestive organs is this: protein is a large molecule. An intestine coated with grease (fat) will allow a small molecule to pass into the bloodstream. The large molecules are kept out.
Fish that have fins and scales have a filtering mechanism to keep impurities out of the meat. Those that don't have fins and scales don't have this filtering mechanism. Going one step further, lobster and shrimp are the cockroaches of the oceans. Without them, there'd be miles of muck on the ocean floor.
Never heard any of this before? It's in one of the most published books on earth. Most people have a copy, or easy access to one. Few ever read or apply it. It's the Bible. The clean and unclean food descriptions (but not the scientific reasoning) are found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Try it for 60 days and see for yourself.
Soda and Beer
I can train someone who smokes. My 11 lbs. in 30 days trainee--at the moment--smokes a pack a day. He's trying to quit. I simply cannot train someone who swills carbonated beverages. Here's why.
The carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages is the same substance that your lungs exhale. The oxygen you breathe in is diatomic oxygen (two oxygen atoms bonded to each other). That oxygen then gets into the bloodstream, picks up waste, and exits the body as carbon dioxide. Carbonation is a waste product. You might as well drink urine.
Further, carbon dioxide immediately halts protein digestion. Prove it to yourself. Eat a steak with a carbonated beverage. You'll notice the next morning that the meat is not digested, it lays there in your stomach. Now do it again a few days later, substituting orange juice for the carbonated drink. You'll feel the truth of this the next morning.
Much has been written about the advantages of raw milk over cooked (pasteurized) milk, how cooking destroys enzymes, vitamins, etc.
What I haven't seen addressed is the problem with plastic milk containers. The formaldehyde in the plastic leaches into the milk and you ingest it when you drink the milk.
Formaldehyde is also known as embalming fluid. Undertakers use it to preserve dead bodies. If you think this stuff just passes through your body, think again. A lot of undertakers these days will tell you that when they embalm people today who died in their 20's and 30's, they need to use only half the usual amount of embalming fluid that they use on older folks.
The plastic milk container manufacturers have supplied the difference.
Refined sugar depletes B vitamins. B vitamins are your growth vitamins. Sugar also interferes with the gastrointestinal tract, causes baldness, makes the body a better place for parasites to thrive in, and brings numerous other deleterious circumstances to the body. Some years back William Duffy wrote a book titled Sugar Blues that explains all this and more in fascinating detail. Most health food stores carry it.
And read the label when you buy the high-protein food bars in the health food stores. Many contain sugar and lots of them are chocolate covered. Why be concerned?
If refined sugar had been discovered in this century, it would by a controlled substance, just like heroin or cocaine. Sugar is highly addictive. Food processors add it to the processed foods (often labeled as glucose, corn syrup, etc.) in order to addict you to their product. Read the labels on the packages and weep.
Remember when Surgeon General Everett Koop stated that tobacco was a harder habit to break than heroin? He was half right. All tobacco in America is sugar-cured. That's the habit people are trying to break--not tar and nicotine.
This is a tricky subject. A lot of us just can't quit eating white flour products and live happily ever after. White flour is far more dangerous than anyone imagines.
As I'm sure you've noticed, a man in his 20's normally make more progress on weight-training than a man in his 40's or 50's. The standard wisdom is that the digestive system of adult American males begins to degenerate in his early 40's. "Degenerate" in this context means the digestive system begins to lose its ability to digest food and convert it to energy, muscle tissue, etc. By the age of 70, the digestive system plainly cannot fulfill its function. A 70 year old man ingests food but his digestive system fails to process it properly in any way, shape, or form. In essence, the person whose digestive system isn't working properly is starved to death.
Let's back up. Almost all of you were raised on white flour products--white bread and rolls, pasta products, doughnuts [an especially effective combination of white flour, sugar, and stale fat], pizza dough, pastries, and the like. Here's where the difference comes in.
Your digestive system consists of more than just the stomach. "Chew your food slowly", saliva begins to digest food in you mouth, etc., need not be repeated here.
We all know the function of the stomach.
Some of you know that many digestive processes occur in the small intestines.
If you're one of the few who understand the functions of the large intestine, or colon, congratulations. You won't need the crude analogy I'm about to use to illustrate my point.
It never ceases to amaze me how many men will go to the gym with a cold, minor muscle injuries, or the like and go through a workout thinking they're building muscle.
That's like cramming a 1,000 hp engine in your hot rod that has a bent front axle, bad tie-rod ends, and unbalanced tires.
Now let's add one other problem to our hot rod analogy. Install the finest carburetion and air-intake system available--the best 4-barrel carbs, a high rise manifold, a turbocharger. Be able to pack that fuel and air in.
Then install an exhaust system designed for a 150 hp engine on your 1,000 hp power plant. Do you think you'll have problems getting your engine to realize its full potential?
Now watch all the bodybuilders who stuff themselves full of every protein and vitamin supplement known to man and don't gain. There are two reasons for this.
First, as Mits taught me over 28 years ago, one spoonful a day of a good protein is all that's required. Mits formulated and sold his own for a while.
Second, if white flour, processed and at least partially undigestible, has encrusted itself all your life on the walls of your colon [as it has most of us over the age of 30], your exhaust system simply isn't going to handle the intake. Here's what happens.
Processed white flour, denuded of the food elements that aid in digestion, glues itself to the walls of your colon. This encrustation builds and builds over the years. The colon ceases to function as designed and becomes, essentially, a sewer pipe with a progressively restricted passage.
First, the colon secrets mucus. If this mucus can't be secreted into the colon itself, it backs up--just like a sewer. The toxins [poisons] that would normally be carried out with the feces back up into the body and get back in the bloodstream. If you're one of those who keep succumbing to pulled muscles, minor injuries, and the like, that's a very good indication that your problem is your plugged-up colon.
Second, when the body runs short of water, it pulls what it needs from the colon. The plaster-like coating in your colon, caused by undigested food staying behind, is a known breeding-ground for some of the 500 different types of bacteria and 200 different types of parasites known to inhabit the human colon. As your body pulls needed water from the colon, these bacteria and parasites can come along for the ride. One of these bacteria is candida (or yeast). It can multiply so extensively that the water from a colonic irrigation is recognizably yellow, there is so much candida.
Colonic irrigation is how you solve this problem. This is not to be confused with an enema. It take 15 enemas to accomplish what one colonic irrigation accomplishes. Colonic irrigation soaks the plaster-like coating of undigested food off the wall of the colon and removes it from your body.
As stated, the B vitamins are the growth vitamins. What you may not be aware of is that the "good bacteria" in your colon synthesizes vitamin B1 (thiamine), B6 (niacin), B12 (cobalumin), and vitamin K.
Got any idea how these particular B vitamins are supposed to get into your bloodstream when the walls of your colon are plastered with 15 year old feces.
As an interesting aside, the average adult male in America has between 8 and 35 pounds of undigested food in his colon. Notice all the "beer guts" on so many of our middle-aged men?
A word of caution before you run out to solve the problem this way. Find someone who has experience with colonic irrigation and who uses the finest equipment--disposable tubing, filtered water, etc. People have been killed at the hands of amateurs.
If you're in your 20s, you might not need many colonics. If you're in your 40's, it's virtually certain that you need colonics.
Why this emphasis on the digestive organs and the abdominal cavity? Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition. If your digestive system isn't working properly, then it should be rather obvious that you're wasting at least 80% of your effort.
It's real easy to sweat off from a pint to a quart of water in a good workout. Sip water between sets. Most of the "muscle building" drinks I see carried into the gym are saturated with sugar. What tastes good sells.
Thirty years ago, body-building and health were synonymous. Not anymore. Today most body-builders seem more concerned with cosmetic appearance, even at the expense of kidney and liver damage. For bulk, steroids simply aren't necessary.
Protein burns up one and one-third its own weight in fat. Why do you think people lose weight on high-protein diets?
Therefore, if you want to gain muscular body weight via protein, you have to take in more fat than protein. This obviously isn't going to work with animal fat, for reasons already stated. Coconut milk contains a large percentage of vegetable fat.
About 20 years ago I met Bob Sorge in New York. Bob was slightly over 6' tall and slightly over 250 lbs. He looked good. He told me the best gains he had ever made were on coconut milk and coconut meat mixed together in a blender.
Remember my trainee who gained 11 lbs. in 30 days? I put him on one can of coconut milk, an equal amount of pineapple juice (not from concentrate, no sugar added), one banana and five (5) scoops of desiccated Argentine beef liver per day, mixed in a blender. I supervised his 3-day-a-week workouts while he drank 3 glasses of the above concoction each day.
Doesn't sound like much? Back in the pre-steroid days of body-building, 3 pounds per month gain was considered "maximum theoretical."
Pick up a 10 lb. roast. A lot of meat isn't it?
11 pounds of muscle gained in one month is not a bad gain for someone who smokes a pack a day.
(Editor's note: This was written in 1996.)
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This page was updated on 8 March 2008