In my earlier installment, I talked about an archetype that seems to be very common, and becoming more so, the couch potato. This type is characterized by low muscle tone, moderate to high amounts of fat, poor carb tolerance, low work capacity and generally a low training status. I relate to this type as I’m one and I have a lot of advice for them. Our next type is my polar opposite, and one I have little personal experience to relate to.
Mr Hawt Abz
Mr. Abz (MHA) was probably a stud in high school, playing at least one sport, often to a high level or at least being naturally lean enough to pull tail. MHA has always had abs, or at least needs very little training to get them back. MHA eats a lot, stays relatively lean and may drop weight precipitously if they diet or do a ton of conditioning work.
Again, as in The Couch Potato, Mr. Hawt Abz probably has both environmental and genetic factors behind their physique. Until we become more advanced in gene therapy, all we can worry about is the environment, so this is what we work on.]
Ways to tell you’re MHA:
- You have abs, or can get them very quickly.
- You played a lot of sports in school, possibly to a high level (high school starter, state champ, played a college sport).
- You were always and/or continue to be very physically active.
- You’ve never dieted to maintain a lean physique.
I think these probably apply for both sexes, but again, I haven’t had a large base of observation for the ladies.
What you need to do:
You’re the classical “hardgainer” that the muscle magazines always admonish to be lazy on their off days. They’re intention is right on the money, as your tolerance to volume is not going to be terribly high. It’s almost as if you can’t eat enough to sustain that much physical activity. I don’t condone doing nothing, but their intent is right. You need to reduce your volume and increase your intensity and you may need to rotate exercises more quickly as well. This is based on the idea that you’re, either due to activity and/or genetic predisposition, more “athletic”. You simply don’t need as much volume to get the job done. You also need to be creative in finding ways to get more calories in and making them “stick”. Bear in mind I’m extrapolating this info from the opposite of my recommendations for the Couch ‘Taters and from what I know other people have had to do and from athletes such as sumo wrestlers.
- Keep your volume down. You may also be more successful with classic bodypart splits. Sometimes in your training cycle, you may need to increase volume for the sake of repetition and gaining technical proficiency (As we are right now) but even then, work to control volume.
- Don’t go nuts with recuding your rest intervals.
- No need to do high intensity conditioning work as I recommended the Couch Potato do once a week. If anything, rep out on your last set of the big exercises or do some sled dragging/prowler/car push at the end of your strength sessions, but don’t go nuts with it.
- Do some active recovery work on your off days, but make it less strenuous than I recommended for the Couch Potato. Try walking for various distances or doing gentle cardio for 15-30 minutes. This would also be a good time to do specific drills, like foam rolling and mobility work. I would also recommend you use a normal post-workout carbohydrate meal or beverage like you would during a strength session.
- Try eating at least one big gorging meal a day. If you have to, just force down a town of liquid/slurry nutrition with one meal a day.
- Try consuming lots of liquid calories in general.
- Eating something not satiating and sugary between regular meals will disrupt your insulin metabolism and make you hungrier at mealtimes. Try candy bars, toaster pastries or regular full sugar soft drinks.
- Don’t go to bed on an empty stomach.
- Try getting your fruits and vegetables in juice or powder form.
- Flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts, walnut oil, heavy cream, coconut oil, canola oil and olive oil are your friends. Get cold processed, extra virgin and organic if you can.
- I’ve heard from the guys at the Dogg Pound in the Intense Muscle Forums that adding some morning cardio, paradoxically, can add weight by increasing appetite. If it works for you, it’s a good way to add more food and increase your work capacity at the same time.