Coker’s Mass Shakes – by Ben Coker

After my previous articles ‘Belly up Mr Hardgainer’ and ‘Bulking on a £3 Budget’ and numerous other big eating emphasises in other posts, I have received a lot of questions regarding options for other protein shake recipes that I use.

Therefore today I though I would share a few more of my blended shake recipes that I use when bulking. Nothing ground breaking here but I understand sometimes people just like to see  something in writing. Remember options are endless based on your tastes, metabolism and goals!

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Breakfast

Shake 1

2 scoops MP impact whey protein
100g oats
500ml full fat organic milk
banana (av. 120g)
Rasberries (123g)

Total kcal 1079

Shake 2

1 scoop MP impact whey protein
1 cup Greek yoghurt
500ml full fat organic milk
50g oats
1 banana (av. 120g)
dried apricot 50g

(add water to vary thickness)

Total kcal 1000

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Post post workout

I use a basic whey and dextrose shake immediate after workout to increase gastirc emptying and maximise the nutrient uptake immediately after exercise. Use this shake within the next hour window.

Shake 1

2 scoops MP impact whey protein
200g oats
80g dextrose
500ml chocolate milk

Total kcal 1549

Shake 2
2 scoops MP impact whey protein
200g oats
2 bananas (240g)
500ml skimmed milk

Total kcal 1329

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Evening

Shake 1

2 scoops MP impact whey protein
50g peanut butter
20ml extra virgin olive oil
500ml full fat organic milk

Total kcal 1042

Shake 2

1 scoop MP impact whey protein
1 cup Greek yoghurt
500ml full fat organic milk
25g oats
50g cashews

(add water to vary thickness)

Total kcal 1116

Hopefully after seeing these recipes you will be instantly formulating some of your own liquid mass gainer ideas.  Get in the kitchen and experiment!

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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.

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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!

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!

Myelin: Optimising Neural Pathways – by Jamie Bolton

I recently finished reading ‘The Talent Code’ by Daniel Coyle. The book focuses on the substance ‘myelin’ which in short is responsible for optimising neural pathways, making both thought and motor patterns more efficient in the process.

To explain better I’ll use the authors analogy. Essentially, at first when attempting to perform an untrained action, as the nervous system ‘fires’, the process is constrained by our neural circuitry, its akin to trying to drive fast down an alleyway, it just doesn’t work very well. As we practice and repeat, the body reacts by ‘wrapping’ nerve fibres in this substance myelin, in the process transforming neural pathways from narrow alleyways into superhighways allowing rapid impulse transfer. What does this mean? Well in essence, what was hard becomes easier.

Neural Impulses everywhere

Think back to your first bench press, I bet the bar wobbled all over the place, but now it follows a nice smooth path (or at least it should!), that’s myelin at work. Or perhaps a better example everyone can relate to, how about babies trying to walk? They try and try, but don’t quite manage it, but then just like that it clicks – they’ve accumulated enough myelin to do the task efficiently.

I won’t go explaining the book any further; if you’re interested in the subject though I’d highly recommend picking the book up, its a great read. What I will do now though is show how this can be useful for us strength athletes.

Let’s continue with that bench press example. That same first time, how much weight did you lift? How about the next time you bench pressed? And the time after that? I’d hazard a guess and say you saw pretty rapid progress in weight for a good month or two, and then the rate of progress suddenly dropped right down. What happened? Well we know myelin has been acting to optimise our neural circuitry, and actually that this happens fairly quickly, allowing these ‘rapid’ gains in strength. But what then? Why do our gains slow? Well, ‘gains’ from myelin have been exhausted for now, and the body is being forced to build bigger motor units (read: muscle) to do the job, which is a slower process. But this is where the good stuff starts happening – now we are growing muscle.

Myelin facilitates neural improvements. When we exhaust these temporarily, the body is forced to make structural, i.e. muscular and skeletal improvements. In turn, more myelin can then be used to make these new structures fire optimally and so on.

What underlies all this though is the need to challenge the body, we need to force adaptations. The body doesn’t want to change, and unfortunately for us always looks for the least ‘cost’ option to it. As a beginner, strength gains are rapid, why? It is relatively ‘cheap’ for the body to improve, all it needs to do is improve its neural pathways through myelin. As these are gains are exhausted, to improve, the body will have to build bigger muscle fibres. This is far more costly for the body. It doesn’t want to have to do this. Therefore, the challenge being placed on the body when training must be great enough to demand it.

If your ‘training’ is too easy, if you get up after that ‘heaviest’ set of deadlifts and you don’t even need to catch your breath, then don’t be surprised when you don’t improve. You aren’t asking enough of your body to make it want to.

Stop changing exercises.

This leads nicely on to my next point. Now, I’m all for variety in training, it’s the spice of life after all. But stop changing exercises for the sake of changing exercises. Lets use our little friend myelin to explain why.

You’ve suddenly hit a ‘wall’ with your strength gains on the bench press, its only going up 2.5kg a week! The horror. For a start, many advanced lifters would give their right arm for gains like that still (though they wouldn’t be much good at bench pressing anymore!) but I digress. So you switch to dumbells, and man, these are tough, you’re weak as anything with them. But next week, wow you’ve jumped, and the week after. For about a month, and then suddenly the gains aren’t forthcoming anymore. Time to ‘switch it up again’ right? Wrong.

Lets look deeper at what’s going on here. On the bench press, we’ve ‘myelineated’ our neural pathways, so our progress slowed down as the body actually was being forced to grow some muscle. We switch to dumbbells, these are new for us. Guess what, back to our first analogy and we’re down a neural alleyway again. But next week its suddenly a paved road, the week after an A-road, and so on, hence the ‘gains’ come quick again, until these pathways are ‘myelineated’ and again the body was being challenged that it might have begun to build some muscle. But you want to switch (rolls eyes).

Wrap up

The human body is a highly complex machine. It will always attempt to do things in the most efficient way possible (read: metabolically cheap).

You need to stick with exercises long enough to push past the neural gains and start seeing muscular gains. Know the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’? That applies perfectly here. To progress you need to constantly challenge the body and not give it an ‘easy’ route out.

But don’t just think that once we’re beyond those initial big neural gains we only make muscular gains. Your neural circuitry is constantly being optimised by myelin. And that’s the brilliant thing, you are constantly being made a more efficient athlete, as well as a more muscular one, as long as you challenge the body. With this in mind, lets make sure we give ourselves the building blocks. Now for once I’m not talking protein (though that is crucial for muscle growth), I’m talking healthy fats for myelin development. In particular in this case, omega 3 fatty acids are crucial, so make sure to consume plenty of omega 3 rich food like salmon, or supplement instead.

Using an array of different exercises is great, but use them for the right reasons. Don’t just switch from bench presses to dumbbell presses because progress has slowed a little. Persevere. Now if your triceps strength, or lack of, is hammering you, then sure, maybe add in some board or floor presses to overload them more. But don’t switch just because you haven’t woken up looking like Ronnie Coleman all of a sudden. Muscle growth takes time.

Push hard and make that body adapt. Give it reason to grow.

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.

Maximising your Hypertrophy: One Rep at a Time – by Ben Coker

You may believe a rep is just a rep and that’s probably why you aren’t growing that much! Each rep counts. Get the most out of each rep and reap big results. In this article I will explain how to perform the perfect rep to maximise hypertrophy

For simplicity, we will consider the rep to be composed of 2 phases –
A) Eccentric or negative
B) Concentric or positive

The Eccentric phase
The eccentric phase of a lift is essentially the lowering phase, where the weight is moved to the starting position prior to a concentric contraction. Here the muscle is under tension whilst lengthening. Using the bench press as an example, it would be the lowering of the bar from lockout to the chest.

The August 2009 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine investigated the advantages and disadvantages associated with concentric and eccentric exercises. When comparing eccentric training alone with concentric training alone, in terms of hypertrophy, eccentric training proved to be superior (1).  ‘These greater increases appear to be related to discrepancies in the sarcomere z –lines… (which) represent fibre protein remodelling’(2).

What does that mean? Eccentric training causes lots of tension overload and thus damage to the contractile elements of muscle fibres. As you lower the weight the body is still sending action ‘potentials’ to the muscle group but only activates a smaller number of the fibres to control the weight on its way back to the starting position. This means there is more mechanical load or stress through those fibres that are working. The result is a super compensatory effect, classic hypertrophy. By controlling the eccentric we can also stabilise ourselves ready for a stronger concentric lift and reduce the impact of the stretch shortening cycle, making the muscles do more of the work!

Now I’m hoping that most of you are already aware that time under tension stimulates high levels of muscle fibre hypertrophy and the above isn’t complicated. But that is only half of the rep. Why the hell would you want to settle for a maximum of 50% gains when it could be 100%? In an exam you would just answer in depth 50% of the questions and very briefly just do the others to a poor standard? The same is true for each repetition. Welcome to maximum motor unit recruitment.
The concentric phase
The concentric phase is the part of the lift where the muscle is contracting and shortening, the upward phase of the lift. Following our earlier bench press example, it would be the lifting of the bar from chest through to lockout.

It is essential to lift the weight as fast as you possibly can! Even if the weight is heavy and the bar is not physically moving noticeably faster you should always try to explode into the bar. ‘As the intensity needed to apply force increases (speed), so does the number of motor units involved in the task, particularly the number of fast twitch or high threshold motor units’ (3). (This is also known as maximum motor unit recruitment). In other words, by attempting to accelerate the weight as fast as possible, we can recruit the most muscle fibres

The last 30 years of research has clearly demonstrated that fast lifting tempos reduce your motor unit recruitment threshold (4).  This means you can train your nervous system to recruit all of your motor units sooner. In addition to this we know fast twitch motor units controls more muscle fibers and these cells are bigger (3). Therefore by lifting with a fast tempo and actively engaging as many motor units as possible (especially the high threshold types that control more fibres), not only are we training for power and strength but we have instantly exposed ourselves to much more potential growth as there are more fibres being trained..

Summary

It is clear that hypertrophy is greatly stimulated by focusing on the eccentric portion of the repetition. But to maximise hypertrophy we must activate (and therefore train) as many muscle fibres as possible from each repetition (maximum motor unit recruitment). This is achieved not only by include a slow controlled negative but also by using a fast concentric contraction.

So don’t be lazy, do this for every rep of every set of every exercise that you do, every day you train from now on and you’ll unleash a whole new potential you weren’t even training before! Doing the small things right every single day is how we truly achieve greatness!

References

(1) Roig, M., et al. The effects of eccentric versus concentric resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2009; 43:556-568

(2) Jack H. Wilmore, David L. Costill, W. Larry Kenney. Physiology of sport and exercise: Human Kinetics (p.207)

(3) Kelly Baggett at http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/kelly13.htm

(4) Desmedt JE and Godaux E. J Physiol 264: 673-693, 1977.

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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