High Intensity Eating and Training for Fast Metabolism
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about slowing progress or stopping progress altogether. Lately, those questions come from bodybuilders looking to gain additional muscular body weight but have an ectomorph body type and/or have an extremely fast metabolism. In answering these questions for readers of my column and clients who train, I find that a clearer understanding of how the body lays down muscles is required. Although I have covered this in many places in the past, I am going to focus here on those with a fast metabolism.
Today, I received a question on a Q&A forum I write for… from an athlete who is an ectomorph bodybuilder. The work he is doing is too much, especially when using the HIT theory. HIT is high intensity training that is very effective. Due to the intensity of training, it should be brief and infrequent and not your garden variety is best.
In his training he performs 8 sets to failure up to 3 times a week. His diet consists mainly of egg whites, a protein bar, a serving of protein such as chicken, turkey, or steak accompanied by pasta or rice. Sometimes he mixed lunch with dinner and dinner was usually very late. His progress was minimal and so he wrote to me asking if I could help him.
This is what I wrote this morning in response to your question…
“My approach to training and eating is very simple. Stimulate growth in the shortest amount of time using the fewest resources, stay out of the gym long enough to allow the body to not only compensate for the grueling effects of training, but also overcompensate…in laying down additional muscle for the next round…and last but not least…fueling your body based on its metabolic needs…
What does all that mean to you?
First of all, (training) 2-3 times a week is too much for anyone. Every 4-5 days is enough to allow the process (muscle growth) to occur in most cases… at least initially.
8 workouts! Too! Why are you doing 8? Why not 10 or 7… you see? There are many crosses that are unnecessary… 3 – 4 exercises are enough, with about 5 being the limit if selected correctly… to get into the full mix! Obviously, deadlifts will draw more resources than concentration curls.
Eating… it all depends on your metabolic rate. I just had a phone client in town who trained and ate with me for a couple of days. Its dimensions are close to yours. In the past he has had a harder time gaining muscle (muscular body weight) although his strength has increased 400% and his body weight 20lbs (very good progress). …This is what he learned…
1-The first revelation was the training! I redefined failure for him and because of that… in two workouts with me (yes, just the second workout) he increased his leg press by 60lbs and his pull up bar went from 7 reps to 16 reps. I couldn’t believe how strong he was and the increase in the next training!
2- The second revelation was what and how much he ate! This is a guy with a super fast metabolism. The body needs cement… FOOD. I am a big fan of eating and not supplements or shakes. High-quality whole foods such as the organic variety. Whole eggs, beef, a little pork sometimes, fish, turkey, chicken, tuna, and fresh vegetables and good fats. I don’t like processed foods.
For breakfast I had a 3 whole egg omelette with vegetables including garlic and onion, whole cheese…homemade wing bill fries sautéed in olive oil and bacon (yes, turkey or pork is fine).
For lunch it would be a triple decker solid albacore tuna salad sandwich with tomato, whole cheese on top, regular mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s) on the salad, wheat bread (sprouted wheat is better) on the triple decker…
A bit of imported cheese as a snack or some assorted nuts in the afternoon is a plus and
dinner would be beef or salmon skewers…a baked potato with the skewers as they had a variety of zucchini, onion, peppers, tomatoes, garlic already on top. I would marinate them in olive oil and spices.
At night there would be a variety of cheeses, nuts… healthy snacks etc and it always came with dinner.
Within a day (the first day he said he felt full), although he wasn’t used to eating this way, his energy levels were high (although he needed an extra nap), his workouts were strong, and he told me he had never eaten like that and had a hard time getting just 2000 calories in it. Well, I assured him that he was way above that level.
So this is what I suggest! I suggest you take at least a two or maybe three week break and allow your body to recover and recover. After that, go for a workout that includes some basic exercises. My High Intensity Powerbuilding (see my site) will work great for you with just 3 exercises per workout covered in variations of 2 basic workouts with 4-7 days rest in between or if you choose to set up your own (workout)… Here’s what what is there to do.
I suggest choosing two workouts from the following exercises (I’ve given an example of a 4-set workout) and doing them once every 4-5 days. ie Monday and Friday one week, Wednesday the next, then the third Monday and Friday and the fourth… Wednesday only. This works on most schedules and is enough time to recover at least initially.
Here are some suggestions… (remember to perform all your reps to failure… keeping them in the neighborhood of 5-8, but don’t stop if there are less or more, just adjust them in the next workout… Except Dips as a superset…that can be 1-5 or so)
Dumbbell or machine flyes (incline or flat)
Dips (add weight if necessary)
Lying French press or close grips
Leg press (optional superset, see below)
OPTIONAL: Leg Press Calf Raise (In this case, use the same weight as your leg press weight, except hold each rep in the top contracted position for 5-7 seconds before performing the next)
pullover or pulldown
Deadlift or Partial Deadlift
You can see this is only 4 sets per workout and all done to failure. These BIG exercises, as I call them, is where it begins and ends. Just like in my High Intensity Powerbuilding, the focus is always on the back and legs, which are the foundation of strength and therefore size. This, of course, is just an example exercise, but it is one with all the necessary movements to activate the body’s growth mechanism in the most efficient way.
Once you’ve got your…training in place, be sure to back it up with the nutritional cement needed to build the house…without it you won’t get the strength and size gains you need. Eat when you can (when you can too) and focus on quality, nutrient-rich foods. Include whole live foods in your diet. Eat and refrain from drinking your food. Since you are in a restaurant, you can approach the cooks and they will make you whatever you want. (He worked in a restaurant.)
(NOTE: The diet shown above is for someone who is trying to gain weight and has a faster metabolism, however…it supports the idea that it takes discipline to gain muscle weight as well as someone who is disciplined Your goal is to lose body fat. Always monitor the way you look in the mirror, so you don’t put on too much fat, as you can gain fat along with muscle, but the goal is to gain very little fat and a lot of muscle. … adjust your calories according to your metabolism.
As you get stronger, you can eventually break up 2-workout exercises or the like into 3 workouts, leaving your workouts shorter with less resource drain on your body and inserting an extra day of rest in between.
…Keep it simple, stupid while following the theory of high intensity training.
Keep it intense, BRIEF and infrequent!”
(The above has been edited for readability)