5 reasons for the success of my hypertrophy phase – by Ben Coker

Well the beloved bulking phase has passed for me and I am now 2 weeks into a mild trim. Looking back on the months since Christmas in which I put on 11kg, I reflected on the things that contributed to my success. My previous articles on the mistakes of bulking 1 and 2 went a long way in keeping me on the road to success but this article explains 5 more personal reasons.


1) I set quantifiable, challenging but realistic goals.

For me I had two post-its on my wall; one saying 150kg for 10reps = 170kg and the other 114.3 kg / 18stone, both surrounded by inspiring quotes I hold close.

The first refers to benching 150kg for 10 reps which should equate to a 1rm of 170kg + by the end of my bulk. The second refers to the body wight I wanted to achieve by the end of my bulk.

These notes were glaring at me every time I sat in my room, there was no escape. I had held myself accountable. Looking back those notes where instrumental in me smashing both targets.

I feel that simply entering a bulk phase with the notion of ‘I want to be bigger and or stronger’ will undoubtedly lead to poor or sub optimal results. Have a fixed finish point and make it visible to you everyday as a reminder to yourself; are you doing everything you can to reach your best?


2) I built my calories up slowly but ultimately if I wasn’t eating when I felt I shouldn’t have then I was stunting my growth.

A recent article about leaving something in the toolbox applies here. When starting a bulk dont go over crazy on the food. Trust me simply by giving your body as little as 500kcal extra a day from its maintenance or dieted levels it has been on between bulking phases is enough to make the body  put on muscle at impressive rates.

BUT here’s the twist. This rate of growth slows as you put on weight so you have to keep increasing your calories over the hypertrophy period to get that surplus of calories above your RMR!

And boy did they the calories have to go up!  Two thirds of the way through my bulk I plateaued. I wasn’t eating enough, but surely 6000kcal a day was enough?

‘Obviously not you idiot’ I told myself.

I went and revised my list on the mistakes of bulking and all boxes were checked barring the fact I wasn’t eating when I felt I shouldn’t!

So up went the calories to 7000kcal and even 8000kcal on some days. What happened? From being stuck at around 110-112kg bodyweight I flew up to 114kg then continue up until 116kg.

So build up those calories conservatively but keep building them up! Don’t fear fat gain as long as your building muscle as fast as humanly possible. There will be another time for you to ‘unveil’ your sculpture later…


3) I walked everywhere

This one is so important especially when you get REAL heavy but also if you put on a decent level of mass in a relatively short period of time. Last weeks article also touched on it.

By walking everywhere everyday you body doesn’t notice the effects of the extra mass gradually being put on. You feel lighter on your feet, and your cardio-respiratory systems are much better adapt to cope with the larger mass.

Honesty call, I love being big but even to me an out of breath mass monster don’t look (or feel) too good! Everyone should be able to walk briskly for at least an hour whilst still holding a conversation. And I’m glad to say that despite impressive gains in muscle mass I don’t feel ‘burdened’ with the extra weight.


4) Adapt to setbacks: I got outside the bodybuilding world and fell in love with a sled

At one point my knee was playing up a bit and so I sought different ways to hit my legs. Pulling a sled caused no pain in my knee and so there was the answer.

If I’m stuck with this I thought then I may as well load the thing up to the max and put a lot of work through my legs. 4 weeks of puke inducing sled training and my legs grew by an inch.

A slap in the face reminder that different is good sometimes, even for a bodybuilder. Any bodybuilder would settle for an inch on their legs but for me the benefits went further. Since quitting rugby some time ago I had not run for years. Despite my strength I was now slower and struggled to sprint under my new weight.

The sled training got me right back on track; my legs were not only bigger now but their power had also been increased. I was now functional again despite being kilos heavier and I loved it! I also enjoyed the sensation of high intensity cardio believe it or not. It made me feel healthier and that’s priceless when piling on size.


5) Deadlift, Deadlift, Deadlift.

I have had issues with my low back for a while and have spent a long time rehabbing and tentatively dabbling in deadlifting again in the process of recovery. But by this bulk phase I was ready to hit them in ernest. I knew deadlifts were the missing link to gorilla muscle, and gorilla muscle was what I wanted.

Gorilla muscle: built by deadlifts.

So I deadlifted and deadlifted a lot. Not always super heavy but I made a point to work hard on form and intensity. Some days I did heavy singles, some days sets of 5 and some days I even did super volume on them like 10×10 or sets of 30reps at 1.5 x bodyweight.

The results of fanatical deadlifting?. My low back and core is now a whole lot stronger and my discs far more protected. A movement that had crippled me even to think of, I now loved. My legs ballooned. My back got super thick. Oh and finally all my other lifts sored up and as a result all their relevant muscle groups grew in a crazy fashion.

The deadlift is the king at building the whole body as the whole body is used. This hypertrophy phases owes a lot of its success to the fact that in it I could for the first time deadlift pain free.  I took full advantage and the scales and measurements went through the roof as a result.


Mistakes of Bulking Part 1 – by Ben Coker

When the scales aren’t moving, the measurments aren’t getting bigger or the t-shirt tighter you are more than likely doing something wrong in your hypertrophy quest.

 These articles will outline common pitfalls that I have realised to be the key areas that have limited my hyhpertrophy at various points in my life. Now, whenever my growth stagnates, I got back to these points and ensure that i’m hitting all of them. When I am, I have noticed that  i’m always growing!  The first part focuses on food.

1) Not eating enough.

You think you do but you don’t. This is such a massive pitfall for many lifters. You think that meal had about 750 ish kcals so you round it to 800kcal. This mindset leads to massive calorie variances at the end of each day.

Here’s what you need to do: Key a food diary. Write out a meal plan including weights of foods, kcal content across your 7-6 meals. This means you know that at x time you need to eat y food which contains z kcal. And once you’ve eaten a meal you can tick it off. Theres no room for mistakes. Sounds strikingly obvious but most lifters don’t keep a log like this – writing down your meals in advance and marking them off as you go ensures you eat the right amount and the right stuff.


You're plan doesn't have to extensive, just do it!


2) Not keeping your kitchen stocked

You should always have your kitchen stocked with the foods that you need so that when it comes to have the next meal you’ve planned out everything is there for you. Theres no excuses to miss or replace meals or skimp on calories. Buy for the week, or at least a couples of days ahead. When stocks start to reach empty go and top them up. Don’t wait till they are empty!

Allways have a stockpile for at least 2 days ahead...


3) Failing to ‘cram the window’.

This is the term I use to describe the 1hr post training window where a lot of growth can be stimulated. This time is like an open window  when your body is screaming for food to refuel and rearm! Take advantage of this and cram some serious calories through that window whilst it’s open. Just as an insight into my understanding of ‘cramming’ I take a 750kcal immediate post training shake then another 1500 to 2000kcal in food in the next 60-90min! (BW 110kg).

'Cram that window!'


4) Being scared of losing your six pack (or at least what you think is a six pack)

Don’t be the idiot that wastes his time trying to get bigger whilst staying lean. You will fail. Don’t be one of those people  that have been training at a gym for year after year but look exacly the same as the day they joined! If you love your six pack so much you’ll have more than enough commitment to strip the fat away when the new you is ready to be unveiled right? Or are you scared of the lazy person that’s inside of you? Commit to bulking 100% Get great results then commit to shredding up those results. Period.

Lee Priest certainly wasn't scared to commit!


5) Not laying your foundation

Keeping this short and sweet, you need to lay a good foundation to grow. Just like you can’t build a house on sand you can’t build muscle in the absence of the micro nutrients and water.

You must be taking good quality omega fish oil tablets (or eating adequate oily fish), a high quality multivitamin and drinking plenty of water each day for optimal growth. The importance and function of omegas and vitamins doesn’t need readdressing, theres plenty of information out there if you look to indicate you need to be taking them for optimal training and health results.

Water is a little less clearly stated in terms of its benefits but they are strikingly obvious. The body comprises approximately 60-70% water. Water flows through the human body, transporting, dissolving, replenishing nutrients and organic matter, while carrying away waste material. Further in the body, it regulates the activities of fluids, tissues, cells, lymph, blood and glandular secretions. Protein synthesis and the training required to induce it therefore are heavily reliant of water. Drink loads!

Be water smart...drink more!

Bulking On A £3 Budget – by Ben Coker

This is a very short article just to fire home how simple and cheap bulking can be. People either don’t know how to eat to grow or come up with an excuses for not eating, namely its too expensive.
I strongly recommended reading ‘Building a Basic Diet’ to gain a good understanding of nutrition as a whole, but more specifically ‘Time to Belly Up Mr. Hardgainer’ on the matter of serious bulking the blended way.
If you believe that eating to grow is too taxing on the wallet don’t fret – it doesn’t have to be. I do fully understand that eating lots of lean meats and lots of calories in general can leave you a bit strapped for cash but what would you say if i said you can easily pack on the muscle for as little as £3 a day? And in a healthy way? You’ll want to know how i bet! Well relax because the answer is at hand.
Below is the breakdown of 8 basic food products in terms of cost per unit, per serving, as well as nutritional values…

Now lets break this down specifically in terms of servings, their cost and the amount you should have of each.  The macro nutrient and calorie breakdown per serving is also given…

Now finally just to fully complete the picture here is how you can combine the foods into 5 meals or ‘feeds’ as i prefer to call them to create a bulking on a budget diet when times are hard.

There you have it. 8 food sources. 4,286kcal. £3.07 a day. By all means this is not a perfect diet (a more varied protein source would be better) but it definitely leaves no excuses  to be not growing when times are financially hard. If you have a slightly more flexible budget obviously add in more. 4,286kcal will not be enough for 100kg + individuals that are on their diet already, but the take home message for those individuals is simply that you can get a lot of calories in for only £3.

Interview with Adam Bishop – Midland’s Strongest Man 2010

Adam Bishop is an up and coming strongman and powerlifter. Amongst a strong and accomplished sporting history he recently obtained the title of MIDLANDS STRONGEST MAN U105 2010 and came in 5TH in the UK’S STRONGEST MAN U105 2010.

EK: Thanks for joining us today Adam. Can you give our readers a little background on yourself?
Adam: I’m a former professional rugby player (winger), and have been lifting weights for six years. I entered my first Open Strongman Competition in 2010 and came 10th out of 20 despite being the lightest.

EK: That’s pretty impressive. What made you want to get into Strongman?
Adam: I always watched Worlds Strongest Man (WSM) and other strongman competitions on the tv ever since I was young and wanted to have a go at it one day. I started posting on a strongman/powerlifting website called Sugden Barbell and ended up going over to a facility called the Container near Melton Mowbray. I found I was pretty good at a few events and it kinda snowballed from there to be honest.

EK: How do you get access to the specific training implements you need to train for strongman?
Adam: The facility at Melton Mowbray has equipment specially made for me and the guys I train with by Jason Talbot, owner of www.atlasstones.co.uk . He can make any weird implement we need to lift with.  I also personally own a small collection of implements which I train with.

EK: What kind of training split do you use when preparing for strongman events?
Adam: I train 4 times a week in the gym following Westside Barbell principles at the moment, which looks like this:
Monday – Max effort upperbody (log, axle, circus DB etc)
Tuesday – Max effort Lower body (Including Deadlift and squats)
Wednesday – AM Repetition upperbody PM Atlas stone lifting
Thursday – Dynamic effort Lowerbody (including speed squats and speed pulls)
Friday – REST
Saturday – Events training
Sunday – REST
It’s a pretty heavy schedule and I wouldn’t recommend it to others but my body seems to recover well so it works!

EK: That’s definitely intense, you must be having to get in some serious food to fuel all of that? How do you tailor it in the run up to an event?
Adam: Off season its calories calories calories for me as I find it very hard to put on weight otherwise. Obviously as I compete in the u105kg category I need to diet back down to around that weight. In the run up to a competition I’ll keep an eye on what I eat and just pretty much clean up my diet. I’m pretty simple when it comes to food.

EK: It’s nice to see someone who isn’t afraid to eat big! Do you put this together yourself or do you turn to a nutritionist?
Adam: I’m on my own with this really. I mean I have a relatively good understanding of nutrition from my rugby days so don’t seek any help from nutritionists.

EK: That’s good to hear. Moving on to competition day, how do you approach it?
Adam: It depends on the event really. Some events require relative calmness and concentration such as keg throwing or most overhead pressing where a lot of skill and technique is required. In other events, such as deadlifts, stone lifting and car flipping I tend to go a bit ape-sh** and get really worked up about the lift, I mean no sane human being would do that stuff would they!?

EK :  What do you do when something doesn’t quite run to plan?
Adam: I just try and stay calm. In one competition I dropped a railway sleeper on my head. Hardly ideal but you gotta just keep going in order to win.

EK: Ouch that’s got to hurt! What’s your favourite event?
Adam: Probably the Atlas stones with the Deadlift a close 2nd. I think atlas stones are the defining event in strongman, it’s always usually the last and most exciting.

EK: We’re sure everybody wants to know what they are, so could you rattle off your most impressive PBs for us
Adam: On the powerlifting movements I’ve deadlifted 320kg from the floor on a normal bar and pulled 360kg on the silver dollar Deadlift. Squatted 270kg in a belt and knee wraps. On strongman, I’ve pressed a 140kg axle overhead and lifted a 175kg atlas stone onto a platform.

EK: Impressive. What does the future hold for you?
Adam: The short term goal is to defend my Midlands Strongest Man u105 title this year and gain qualification for the UK’s Strongest Man where to be honest, I want to win. I came 5th last year in my first year in the sport, so now I want to take the title and go to the World’s! After achieving this I think I’ll try and gain some weight and look to compete more in the open weight category.

EK: Fantastic stuff. Thanks again for joining us and all the best for the upcoming contests!

Deloading 101 – by Jamie Bolton

The deload. The lazy-man’s excuse to not work hard. The hard grafters way to grow. It’s a delicate balance, but one too often abused in favour of the first option, if it’s used at all. 

I can imagine some of you sitting there thinking, what the **** is he on about and what the hell is a deload?

A deload or back-off week is a planned reduction in training volume and/or intensity. This can be from a few days up to a full week.

Why? Well, let me ask you how much muscle is built whilst training? None. Muscle is built when you recover from training. The longer and harder you push it in the gym without, the more fatigue, aches and pains you start to accumulate. In other words, you under-recover. A deload allows the body to super-compensate and allow you to hit the gym with renewed vigour and new-found strength.

Now before you all start taking it easy in the gym in the name of deloading, there’s one crucial point to remember here. Only deload when you need to

As a rule of thumb, the need and regularity of deloads will increase with training experience and age. The advanced trainee can’t push as hard for as long as the beginner. Nor can the old timer when compared to a young whipper-snapper. The more developed you are, the heavier you’re training loads are (or should be at least), and the greater the toll your training is taking on the body, so the need for recovery is greater.

At this point some coaches will give out prescriptions for deloads. One week in every four is a very common and popular one. For the developed lifter there is some merit to it for sure. For the beginner, this is far too frequent. My biggest argument with this kind of recommendation is that it’s far too standardised to be optimal for every lifter. My training isn’t your training. I might need a deload every four weeks, but your training might warrant a mini-deload every three weeks, or you might be fine with one in every eight!

You want to push every training cycle for as much as its worth. Deloading for the sake of deloading won’t get you anywhere fast.

So how can we tell when to deload? Well, the human body gives us plenty of simple cues, we just have to be clever enough to listen to them.

Cues for Deloading:
1. You’ve stopped progressing (and calorific intake is high). The point in brackets is crucial, you must be in a calorie surplus for this cue to be true.
2. Weights that you were dominating are starting to feel heavier.
3. Decreased motivation to train. And I’m not talking about the, ‘I went out last night’ type of not wanting to train (but this won’t be helping you anyway), but when you are getting to the point of almost fearing training.
4. Need for sleep increases. For this cue, it must be a given that all else is equal, i.e. you are getting as much sleep as you usually do, other general stresses are the same etc.
5. Explosiveness decreases. For me, in particular on lower body days, I tend to throw in a lot of jumps between main sets. When I start to notice a sustained decrease in vertical height over a few sessions, it’s time to back off.
6. Chronic ‘Achyness’. Not just the regular DOMS, but when you start to really ache, even days after a session and usually you would be recovered.
7. Inability to get ‘in the zone’. You do your regular activation movements, even some extra, but you seem to be struggling to get that fire going at the moment.

There are probably a few more of these the veterans among you have noticed over the years but you get the picture. Listen to those nagging cues, whatever they may be, and thank me later.

If you have to ask yourself if any of the above apply, you don’t need to deload. If you need a deload, you should have been reading the above whilst nodding your head, heck chances are you’ve been noticing these things for a while. Any one of the above may occur from time to time; deloading is only required when a few of the above are persistent cues from the body for a good week or so.

Deloaded Training

Deload training doesn’t really need to be a whole heap different to regular training. The ‘keep it simple’ approach is to just decrease intensity (read: weight lifted) by 40% and follow the program otherwise unchanged. If you’re a beginner, then you can get away with decreasing volume by 40% (read: same weight, less sets and reps).

But we can take a different approach also. I like to sometimes use deload periods to try out new exercises, or plain just ‘wing it’ in the gym. The key is to make sure the training is non-fatiguing and sub-maximal. Heck even consider taking a week out of the gym and hit up the park with just bodyweight movements. I’ll often try to ‘plan’ the need for a deload before a holiday, when I’m not sure what the training facilities will be like so I can do one of the above! The key is to keep it a bit easier and recover, you won’t get weaker by taking a week off when you really need it.

How long to deload? It depends, it might be four or five days, it might be a full week or even slightly more; again, listen to the body. When you’re starting to feel somewhat sadistic and crave a heavy squat session again, you’re ready.

Wrap up

We progress by challenging ourselves in our training, but unfortunately we are only human (well most of us are!). We don’t grow when training, we grow when recovering from training. Over time we accumulate more fatigue than can be recovered from between workouts and gradually the body tells us to back-off, but we must listen to it. After a period of reduced intensity/volume, we come back stronger, bigger and more eager to hammer away at our training again. One small step backwards for a many further steps forward.

And that’s it. Deload to recover and start progressing again. But only if your body needs it.

The Simpler Nutrition Guide – by Jamie Bolton

What I’m going to present to you today isn’t groundbreaking, it isn’t revolutionary, nor will it instantly make you drop 10lbs of fat and gain 20lbs of muscle. But it is simple, and that’s where its beauty lies. After all, its been said that complexity is the language of the simple minded. I’m going to give you a quick, easy to remember, but incredibly effective way to tidy up your diet and instinctively make better nutritional decisions. 

First, a brief history lesson. Lets think back say fifty thousand years. Our diet back then was dependant on the environments we lived in. Agriculture was a good 40,000 years from being put into use. Man was essentially the quintessential ‘hunter-gatherer’. We ate what we could hunt – meat and fish – and what we could gather – vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, eggs. If it wasn’t there, we couldn’t eat it. It was about as basic as nutrition could get, eating literally what nature provided. Was this optimal for survival? Definitely not, else agriculture and the like would never have needed to be invented. Yet many people nowadays have had great success by reverting to this kind of ‘paleo’ diet, so there is some truth for sure in keeping things basic.

Jumping forward to say two-hundred years ago and the world has changed just a little to say the least, but not necessarily for the worse. Agriculture and farming has been in action for thousands of years, and world trade has allowed food products to be moved around the world. This starts to sound a lot like modern day, but with one crucial difference – we could only eat what the land would grow, not what we could ‘engineer’ as food. In other words, we were still dependant on nature.

Lets jump to the present. The food processing industry dominates much of the way people eat. Fast food and junk food are prevalent. The use of pesticides widespread. Animals and crops are not grown the way nature fully intended. Is this all bad? No. If you were to look at standards of living today versus back then, there is no doubt things are the best they’ve ever been right now, but I digress.

Look, I’m going to cut to the chase and give you the truth – people have had success with high-protein, high fat, and high carbohydrate diets; they all work if done correctly. What doesn’t work is the synthetic ‘food’ that food processing companies push on us. Don’t major in the minors, in the big picture whether you eat 1g/lb of protein or 1.1g/lb won’t make or break your progress. Focus on eating real food as nature intended.

That’s all wonderful, but how can we use the above information to inform our dietary decisions?

In short – the further removed a food is from the way nature intended, the less of it we should eat.

What does this mean in practice? Take the donut for example; donuts are about as processed as a food can get – white flour dough fried in hydrogenated fats and tossed in refined sugar. Nowhere in nature does anything similar exist. Therefore we shouldn’t be eating many of them. Simple.

Not quite what nature intended

Lets take something a bit more questionable, like say a tomato pasta sauce. Tomato pasta sauce is tomato pasta sauce after all right? Maybe not. Look at the ingredients on the pot, and look up the ingredients online needed to make the sauce from scratch. Notice the difference? The pre-made one has far more unnecessary ingredients like e-numbers, stabilisers and sugar. Which one do you think is going to be healthier? 

What about a beef steak? Beef is wholesome, natural protein right? Yes and no. Beef is a great source of protein no doubt. But lets go a little further. Most animals are reared nowadays on diets they wouldn’t consume in nature, in the case of the cow, often corn feed instead of grass. Now this causes a host of problems for our friend the cow, leading to a less healthy animal (check out Michael Pollan’s books for more info), which isn’t quite as good for us. If you can afford it, switch to organic meats, and in the case of beef – grass-fed. Food is more than just the sum of its macro-nutrients.

So what am I saying here? Eat only freshly made, unadulterated, organic food and never touch anything that has ever heard the word ‘processed’? Not quite. Strict dietary protocols and rules like that are always unsustainable, and not much fun in the long run.

Let’s make better food choices in the simplest of ways by focusing on natural, whole foods. A great question to ask yourself when shopping is – ‘was this around two-hundred years ago’ or ‘would my great-great-great-great grandmother recognise this as food’?

Great-Great-Great Grannie would recognise this as food

How can we put this all together? Well, ‘tighten’ or ‘loosen’ according to your goals.

If you’re in a gaining phase, then you can afford to be a little ‘looser’ with your food choices.
If you’re trying to lean out a bit, then best to stay away from the processed food options and try to keep things a bit more basic & primitive.

Look, the essence of my argument is pretty simple. Our genes haven’t changed much in a few hundred-thousand years, but the environments we live in and the food we consume has changed dramatically. By keeping food choices back to the basics, there could be much to be gained.

Nutrition doesn’t need to be difficult. We don’t need to eat perfectly all the time, but if we can improve food choices step-by-step constantly, then we’ll create a healthier, better performing, better recovering athlete.

Time to ‘Belly Up’ Mr. Hard Gainer – by Ben Coker

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by people regarding hypertrophy is what to eat. Questions are invariably ‘what do you have to eat to get that big?’ Or ‘what supplements do you take?’ I’ll put it very simply from the outset; forget the supplements and just eat a LOT of food. Oh wait I forgot you’re a hard gainer with such a fast metabolism that no matter what you eat you can’t grow. Let me break it to you bluntly. Either your training sucks and or you aren’t ‘bellying up’.

Let me guess, this guy is already 'bellying up'

Building big muscles means big food! Think of muscles as a house and food as bricks. If you want a bigger house you’re going to need more bricks. Catch my drift? Now I can guarantee that for a large proportion of people they have no idea of what my definition of a lot is!  A chicken breast with brown rice three times a day I’m afraid to say to me means, three snacks. Don’t get me wrong these foods are the right stuff to be eating (great protein source and relatively low G.I. carbohydrate sources) but they aren’t calorie dense and you’ll be surprised by how little calories they have compared to how full you feel after eating them.

I can here you guys out there that are dedicated muscle magazine readers screaming in confusion ‘but that’s what Cutler does, that’s what all the pros do!’ Yes they do but they will have seven of these meals and a whole lot more protein at each serving, but that isn’t the point I’m making. Yes these guys can do that because at that level their bodies are so used to carrying that amount of muscle that they have become much more efficient at retaining that muscle and aren’t actually looking to build a huge lot more! The point that the magazines don’t point out is that to get to that stage of weighting 120kg most of the pro bodybuilders would have been smashing in some serious calorie dense food on a silly scale in their off season. The best example is Lee Priest who openly admits to ‘indulging in food’ because it tastes good and it is necessary.

Lee Priest knows what Massive Meals are

Now I’m not condoning eating plate loads of K.F.C. 6 times a day, neither is Lee Priest. What I am highlighting is that massive meals need to be just that, massive! Although the odd fast food binge too probably won’t hurt, due to the calorie dense nature of the food in light of serious resistance training causing your muscles to be seriously hungry for building blocks.

From experience the huge quantity of food necessary is very hard to consume day in day out every 2 to 3 hours and so I called upon liquid calories to make it easier to get the vast amounts of calories in per day. I soon learnt the beauty of a food blender as it enabled me to make a whole host of mass shakes which have numerous advantages:

  1. If you’re counting calories it’s very easy to weight the ingredients you are blending thus you can ensure the precise calorie count per shake.
  2. You can ingest a whole lot more healthy food sources than what you would otherwise be able to eat solid.
  3. As the calories are liquid they are more readily digested and absorbed, which means that you feel hungry soon despite eating a whole lot more! This makes it easier to meet daily calorie requirements.
  4. They save you having to spend half your life in the kitchen.
  5. You don’t have to carry Tupperware boxes of food round with you only a shaker.
  6. You can play around with any food stuffs that you love!
I currently fluctuate around 110kg body weight and am currently bulking hard. My favourite mass shake at the moment is:
  • 2 scoops of whey blend (44g protein)
  • 500ml full fat milk (yes red top and green top milk is for sissies)
  • 200g oats
Roughly 1240kcal
Last year’s staple bulking shake was:
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 scoop of whey blend (22g protein)
  • 500ml full fat milk
  • 120g oats

Roughly 1152 kcal
(Obviously for smaller or larger persons quantities vary accordingly)

Now for the observant of you out there you may realise that I have included protein powder in these shakes despite saying forget supplements. OK I lied, the only supplements that I feel are necessary for a convenience factor are high quality whey blends, multivitamins and omega 3 tablets. Protein powder works out a lot cheaper than buying large quantities of meat especially in today’s economic climate and that is why I use them in the shakes for convenience not necessity. You can simply add in other sources of protein from whole foods though like eggs or egg whites (personal opinion: if you’re looking for size, just put the whole egg), peanut butter and even increase the milk contend to avoid having to use protein powder.

All ingredients in the above shakes are healthy foods of a low G.I. source and each shake allows me to consume way more then I could possibly eat! The 2 scoops of protein is roughly equivalent to 200g chicken and 200g oats and milk equals 4 large bowls full of porridge and 5 eggs says it all! Do you fancy eating that every 2-3 hours?! Me neither.

Don’t feel that the options are limited to that list. Think peanut butter, Greek yogurt and even dairy ice cream around workouts! The beauty of the shake is now evident. Not only are these easy eating but if you price up all the ingredients you’ll be amazed at how little you have to spend on food despite eating a ton load more! Trust me the cheapest most effective supplement you’ll ever get!

Now I hear cries of’ madness you will get fat’. My answer, ’maybe if you aren’t smart or committed enough to use the scales, mirror and your eyes to find your optimum calorie range per day and if your training is really just a bunch of ’going through the motion movements’ in the mirror!’ If that’s you then hey you probably won’t succeed anyway in this game as it’s all about a perfectly disciplined will to hard training and food. If you’re still concerned about staying lean whilst bulking then try having mass shakes when your muscles are hungriest for nutrients. Basically, try having one for breakfast and one post workout or the first feed after your post workout shake. That will help to ensure that the calories go into the right place following the insulin spike i.e. your muscle cells when they are most insulin sensitive.

The truth of the matter remains this, if you are serious about making noticeable muscle gains mass shakes will put size on you like nothing else. In my opinion, throw caution to the wind, screw staying lean if your trying to put on serious weight, because guess what? If you’re that serious about having a great physique you’ll have the commitment to diet down excess fat after your bulk. Period. And if you’re a power lifter or strongman then having a six pack isn’t the most essential fitness trait for success. So before you go looking for the next best supplement that drains your pocket for no return just give these a try. Belly up Mr. Hard Gainer or go home!

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