BodyWorks: Just Get Fit.

I want to be Lean & Mean. How do I determine the minimum amount of calories on a daily basis required to do this?


This kind of detailed data most Muscle Geeks are ready to die for.

We find ourselves sitting cross-legged and still with a clear, uncluttered mind like a buddha in a room of about average (18C–20C) ambient temperature.

Under such circumstances, most of us will burn up somewhere in the vicinity of between 1600 kcal and 2400 kcal (based on age, height, sex, amount of total and lean body mass and some other variables) in a 24-hour period.

This is called your RMR, or resting metabolic rate. If you want to nail it down a little more precisely for yourself, you can become a guinea-pig in a laboratory enclosed in a device that will determine the ratio of respiratory gas (CO2 vs O2), providing an exceedingly accurate calculation to you. Here is a scan of one that I had done at the UCLA Exercise Research Lab a few years ago pictured above as an example.

RMR is not exactly the same as BMR, or basal metabolic rate, but close enough. A nice, useful little freebie that is usually thrown in along in the printout you get is data that will also indicate what the ratio of your RMR is derived from fat vs. carbohydrate. I think mine cost me around $50 and took about an hour to do. If you have it done at a high end, profit-oriented establishment, it will probably cost you a lot more. I understand that there are now some relatively accurate handheld consumer devices on the market like the Body Gem that will do the same jobbut I haven’t had much experience with them.

So, to get back to your original question, let’s give it a provisional answer at this stage. You ought to be able to get by with a 2500–2800kcal intake (although I would experiment with a macro caloric ratio of something like 30–40% P, 20–40% F, 20-30% CHO until I could get a good idea of what worked). But what results you get will also depend heavily on your daily activity level.

As a kilogramme of muscle is worth approximately, 2000 kcal, you won’t need a large caloric excess in order to gain and maintain a little muscle. If, on the other hand, you’d like to gain another kilo of fat, that might cost you a more generous 7500 kcal of extra intake.

general rule of thumb is that the faster you gain weight, the higher the chance that the new weight gain will be composed of a higher percentage of fat. The corollary to this rather bothersome & annoying fact is that the faster you lose weight, the greater the likelihood that most of the weight loss will be from that nice, lean body mass that you worked so hard for.

The mean bit, we’re going to have to leave that up to you to figure out.

LandMine Squats

So, the guy who runs the gym has lots of injuries accumulated over the years and some fancy hardware installations to go along with them. No big deal.


This doesn’t always make it cost-effective to do heavy squats, but anyone who reads any of my blogs knows that I think Squats are King.

Injuries are always a pain in the back, even one that doesn’t involve it. Multiple injuries just multiply the problem, sometimes exponentially. Surgeons are great mechanics, but they don’t often send along very helpful maintenance manuals or spend much time teaching you how to drive it, once you’re back on the roads with the new model.

So, what to do? How do I maintain some credibility and not have to bear the insult and humiliation of people pointing & laughing at legs turned into thin strands of Angel Hair Pasta?

This is how:

No, you won’t be loading up the bars with 500kg and breaking any new world records, but the configuration of the exercise allows for offloading the lumbar spine to a certain extent and focusing on the pump.

And it’ll take away the worry that you’re going to pop a disk and have to chase it around the gym all afternoon.

What fraction of body mass do I actually lift when performing a normal push-up?


Surprisingly, a rather difficult one to answer precisely. But as long as you’re satisfied with a close enough answer, we’re good.

Stay with me as I attempt to reach back through the vast spaces of time and rust to a very questionable command of a little high school trigonometry and Newtonian mechanics, nearly forgotten. Specifically Newton’s 2nd Law(Dear Mrs. Beeson, I do regret deeply all the wasted opportunities spent ditching your high school Latin & Physics classes. Yep, I’m paying dearly for the hard-learned lessons of my crassness then, with my dumbness now).

I am also making a decision to spare myself the embarrassment and everyone else here the pain of calculation and proof.

So, assuming all things being equal (which they, in the real world, are not) and that we are doing a standard push-up at an even pace (1–2 count up, 1–2 count down) similar to the illustration above, unmodified in any other way: about 56% of total body mass is lifted by your upper body muscles. This will leave the remaining 44% landing on or around your feet and toes.

Well, let’s now assume that you’re a strapping 100kg lad.

If you are, you’d then be doing roughly the equivalent of 56 kg bench press, along with a reasonable amount of core work involved, which would be required to preserve good form, thrown in for good measure.


If you are also the distrusting DIY type and want to check this, get yourself a scale and do your pushup with that. You don’t even have to do the push part, just set it down, position yourself in the pushup position, with your hands on the scale and read the scale.

What Happens When You Do 200+ Squats A Day.

Taking on activities such as this will lift you out of the safe, boring straight-jacketed world of the mind-numbing mundanities and soul-destroying mediocrities of a normal work-a-day world and will teach you something.

Furthermore, engaging in unaccustomed activities, outside of yours and others’ comfort zones, in general, places you on a narrow, less traveled, mystery-strewn path towards some of the older and truer gods. If you’re young enough and careful enough, the risks are minimal and the payoff in knowledge and muscle will probably be worth it. The older and less careful you are, the higher the risks and costs of doing business off of the beaten path become.

Therefore, the wise man verily approaches this unknown land with respect & fascination; engaging not his aspirations with ambivalence & incaution.

Moreover, the man or woman who would seek to circumnavigate above the limitations of his or her fellow men will begrudge not the high price of admission exacted for passage through these hallowed lands and out unto the chiaroscuro landscapes of his uncommon endeavours and the golden arrows of opportunity & self-knowledge which are to be found there and that they represent.

Why Squats Are A Desert Island Exercise, Why It’s Enough Just To Use Them To Build Your Legs And A Little Story.

I remember leaving high school and starting out my bodybuilding career at the Santa Monica YMCA in the mid-1970s when it was all about “isolation” exercises. That was the catch-phrase and the way everybody at the “Y” trained back then. Also, at the time the famous (and equally infamously wrong) Food Pyramid was the accepted norm. But, most people go with what most people know, and unfortunately, I was no exception.

Not long after Gold’s relocated from the its iconic Venice location on Lincoln Blvd. to 2nd Street in Santa Monica, I also made my move. Everyone left back at the old “Y” thought I was a very brave fellow, indeed. This Gold’s place seemed to make average people a little jittery, no one could work up enough nerve to go along with me into that scary Muscle-Never-Never-Land because, presumably, nobody normal ever returned from this strange place. It was only a few blocks away, but it might as well have been Alpha Centauri.

Anyway, for me it was necessary to move on, avoid becoming stagnant and remaining a puny little weakling. If I wanted to be a big dog, I guessed, then I’d just have to go where the big dogs played.

At the time, all the machines at Gold’s had been made by the original owner, Joe Gold. There weren’t many of them, I think the gym at the time was 1400 or 1500 square feet, and they weren’t pretty but man, they were sturdy and built to last.

There were benches, there were weights and lots of them, there were cable flies, there was a vertical leg press, there was some shit-I-didn’t-evenknow-what-it-wasand there were squat racks. Two of them.

I remember running into a couple of bodybuilders, guys sort of famous at the time, Bill Grant and Ken Waller, who took me under their wings and gave me some advice. Their advice was old school, because way back then, in the Golden Age of the Dinosaurs, that’s all there was.

The minimalistic advice offered to me went something like this:

  1. Bench Press
  2. Deadlift
  3. Squats, squats…and more squats.

The simplicity was Zen-like, it appealed to me.

Because at the time I recognized this advice for what it was, the intrinsic value that it held for me and the invitation that it represented. And what it represented was boundaries and it was discipline. It was the straight & it was the narrow. It allowed me the freedom from choice, presenting me with just the one. That one choice was to grow.

You see, it narrowed the options. It focused me and kept me from dissipating my time and energy on frivolous isolation exercises that were of little use to me then, that I was not yet ready to benefit from.

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes the only way to finish a painting and get it done is to put a frame on it and call it done.

You are on your dream cruise to a faraway desert island. The ship hits a rock. You’re going down fast. You only have time to take one exercise.

Quick! which one do you take?

The Squat is your ultimate Desert Island Exercise.

Legs 2.jpg

How Often To Train Legs?

The human body seems to react systemically to lower body training in an interesting way that is absent when training upper body muscles. There is a crossover effect that stimulates growth factors in other parts of the anatomy, not proximal or close to the parts being trained directly. Note that it, unfortunately, doesn’t work the other way, with those upper body muscles. This knowledge comes in pretty handy in determining a training strategy, especially if you injure something above the waist. As long as you can manage some sort of leg training, you should be able to preserve upper body mass to some extent. Useful to know next time you snap a biceps tendon or break a collarbone.

So, if I were a young trainer, just beginning or intermediate, I would schedule a full leg workout 2 X weekly.

I would schedule my sessions to look something like this:

Day 1 Legs

Day 2 Rest or Cardio

Day 3 Upper Body

Day 4 Rest or Cardio

Day 5 Legs

Day 6 Rest

Day 7 Upper Body

If the Upper Body days prove to be too challenging to get done in one session, split the upper body muscles into the following groups:

A. Pushing Muscles-Chest, Shoulder & Triceps

B. Pulling Muscles- Back, Biceps, Abs.

The logic behind this strategy is that it optimally balances the need for rest and recovery with training frequency emphasizing lower body development while assisting you in stimulating overall mass.

How do I burn fat and build muscle at the same time?

“It’s one or the other, but not both at the same time,” this is the commonly known factoid.

The problem with common knowledge is that it’s, more often than not, exactly worth the price paid for it, sometimes a lot less. Commonly known facts are cheap crutches that the ignorant and lazy lean upon and a scourge and hobblement to the seeker after truth and the suppliant who struggles toward the light at the end of the tunnel of progress.

Any reader who has bothered to read more than one of my articles or postings here or on Quora will probably know better than to try to second guess what to expect next, but will certainly suspect it won’t be along the lines of the prevailing thought or what’s known commonly.

In the interests of readers’ attention spans, we’ll just give a little dietary advice (which should take care of the cutting question while preserving the muscle mass bit) and save the training points for another time. You may, however, have to eventually prioritize your objectives and decide which of these two qualities you want to put most of your emphasis on.

To do what you want will be a slow, laborious process but certainly not impossible. The reason that it is difficult is that the building of muscle is not particularly high on the list of evolutionary activity as far as Mother Nature is concerned. So you’re going to have to first trick Mum into thinking that you’re not in danger of starving yourself to death.

Which means you will have to take your time, use your smarts and do it by the numbers. No silly moves that might upset things and switch that fat conserving survival button on.

The tool that you’ll want to use here is a modified form of ketosis diet, sometimes referred to as carb backloading, but I don’t like jargon so I won’t use that silly term.


  1. Buy yourself some Ketostix to check the levels of acetoacetate and, if you’re really geeky, a blood BHB meter and learn how to use them.
  2. Get yourself into a mild to medium state of ketosis. Becoming Keto Adapted normally takes 4 or 5 days, if done properly. Adapting for most people usually involves generally unpleasant sensations like lethargy and dysphoria. Just pay your dues and stick with it, it won’t last forever.
  3. This step will take a little experimentation. Most of us can remain in ketosis and still manage an intake of 50–100g of carbohydrates. Determine the maximum amount that you can eat without totally kicking yourself out of ketosis. Then take the lion’s share of this amount around the time you do your training. It works for some individuals better prior and others post training.
  4. Keep track of things and make adjustments as you progress.

My personal experiences, both as a trainer with my clients and using myself as guinea pig, gives me a solid feeling that a cycle of 3–6 weeks is optimal.

If you stick to the program, you should be surprised and impressed with your results.

Are Bodybuilders Underrated?

Yes, I suppose that they are, a little.

Bodybuilding has always been a fringe sport, with its fair share of bigger-than-life-characters, oddballs, conmen, crazies and criminals. As sports go, its popularity probably hangs on a rung of the ladder down there between Competitive Darts and Curling.

I think that for a little while, though at the end of the 70s, when Arnold was in his heyday as a bodybuilder and Pumping Iron had just been released, there was fascination and some respect in the sport. This era is usually considered The Golden Age of Bodybuilding and was probably the period of time that it was closest to being accepted by the public as a mainstream activity.

I suppose that the novelty eventually wore off and people grew a little jaded and it has slowly edged back towards the fringes and into the shadows.

As its level of recognition changed, so did the nature of its appeal to the average person who aspired to the embodiment of the ideal. And the type of body that used to win trophies changed along with it. If you give medals for aesthetics, you get better aesthetics, if you give medals for meat, you get more meat. And unfortunately for the popularity of the sport, more meat is where the medals went.

What was once considered the aesthetic epitome of the sport & art of bodybuilding: the elegantly strong, balanced, athletically classical paradigm commanding a collective intake of breath and garnering a wide popular appreciation changed. It became more about freakish mass, drugs and the power politics of the sport than aesthetics, balance, personality and a search for a sort of physical transcendence. And, let’s face it, some of the muck beneath the patina of the myth surfaced and stepped into the limelight.

This change of perception & ethos probably has something to do with its current lack of popular appeal. My personal view is that the sport could use a good, swift kick up the backside and some strong leadership personalities to revive its fortunes.


Most people assume that this photo on the original edition of the book and movie is Arnold. It’s not. This is the bodybuilder Ed Corney.

Can I split my HIIT and weightlifting sessions at the gym?

Background photo - Homepage

Absolutely. In fact, this is the optimal & ideal way to apportion your training activities.

How a particular training style or strategy will affect you depends on a number of variables, both extrinsic & intrinsic. For example:

Extrinsic variables will include: exercise duration, volume, time of day, intensity, weight lifted. It will also include diet, drugs and supplements used.

Intrinsic variables will be things like genetics, age, health status, etc.

True HIIT training is a short duration, high intensity, by definition and it’s very nature, a self-limiting activity. In other words, you can’t maintain it for long, if you’re doing it properly.

Weight training (not powerlifting, not Olympic Lifting, not cross-training) perhaps let’s call it bodybuilding here for precision, where the main goal is muscle hypertrophy, consists of a higher volume, more controlled & focused, less intense, longer duration activity.

Your body’s physiology will use both common (immune system mechanisms) and dissimilar (mTorgeneration vs ampk release). I’ll avoid getting overly technical about it and put a wrap on it by saying that the best result will come from you separating these activities as much as possible and allowing yourself to recover and essentially giving yourself time between them to reload.


The Problem That I have With The Tim Ferris-es Of This World.

 You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.” W.C. Fields

Ok, so speaking as a personal trainer and a guy who has run a gym for the last few decades, the problem that I have with Tim Ferriss’ books, particularly The 4-Hour Body and their ilk, is the same problem that I have with all of this author’s work, the author himself and people like him, in general.

I am fully aware that there is no doubt vastly numbers more of  The Tribe Of Ferriss than there are of me. So really, who am I to swim vainly against the rising tides, to criticise hardworking, rich and famous internet personalities? Just a nobody, that’s who.

For those readers who want it simple and wish to avoid the necessity of wading through the significant material backup provided below, in a nutshell: Not only does most material in these books not work, most of it fucking doesn’t work. Just look at the man himself. Is this the body that you aspire to, that you dream of having? Well, those who know better than to do, teach…and all that, right?

You can separate some writers from their body of work and some you can’t. TF is one of those that you can’t. All his books can be lumped together, they are all delivering essentially the same message about different subjects. Criticise one and you can pretty much take down the whole lot with the same bullet.

Please don’t misunderstand, the man himself is no slouch and emphatically not rip-off artist, he’s a charlatan. He knows how to entertain and has developed a system that keeps the money-spinning public well, spinning money. No small talent, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I will explain myself further after I set the plate of this commentary with a few garnishments (skip them, if you wish).

To paint success with a broad brush. To have a light touch. To enjoy the warm breeze, the cold beer, a thick slice of watermelon on the sand, it’s taste mingled with the watercolour scent of the sea.

A lot of things can be used to pin the S (success)-word on your lapel. Little things that you achieve can go a long way to give you as much rush, satisfaction, and feeling of accomplishment, you imagine, as climbing to the top of the Matterhorn or making a million dollars. We all strive to do the best we can with the little we have.

Also, I like successful people. I am fascinated on how it all works and usually quite comfortable around them. At least, when I run into one, now and then. I feel that I can trust most of them most of the time, that is, as long as I’m not carrying around something that they covet. Yes, successes tend to be a fun and interesting crowd to be around. Even the miserable ones can furnish enlightenment of one sort or another.

Tim Ferriss is intelligent and successful. It appears that a successful, intelligent man like Tim Ferris can make a killing in social media environments by spinning tall tales and coaxing a large segment of the public to feel that they possess the same potential to be just as intelligent and successful, and therefore, by extrapolation just as happy as he appears to be. All you need is 4 hours per week and, of course, a buy-in.

Tim is a seller of snake-oil, but a successful and delightful one. You can pick up any of his books and make believe that you, too are going to be a success in whatever is being suggested by the book’s title. Just like you can pick up any issue of COSMO and make believe that you’re a model, and in a much shorter time than you ever dreamed was possible. So, no tedious and boring reality to get in the way and make a mess. Just buy Big Tim’s book.

People like Ferriss are the symptom rather than a cause of the malady of the Modern Hack Mindset. This Modern Hack Mindset is merely a recycled old body part found in the inner workings maintained in all of us that lives in hope, desperately wanting to believe that you can get your checks for free, understanding that learning of nuclear physics in a week is no problem, positively asserting the only requirement is that by chanting a simple magick mantra any girl you want falls immediately and lovingly into your arms forever and ever.

This is the self-same part of the human psyche that is easily persuaded you’re really going to win that race, after all. Just hold on a little bit longer, until you can get that guaranteed winning ticket from your lucky downtown bookie who is holding one for you with your name on it. Just wait on the man.

You know which man I’m talking about, right? The one who really gives a fuck about you.

Easy online access and cheap advertising has the potential to generate things of light & things of value but also increasingly, deals in questionable creatures selling uncertain commodities requiring for their safety and survival a cloak of bullshit that the opaque shadow worlds of the internet readily provide.

I think many online experts and gurus busy themselves with promulgating the idea that success is a sort of Ponzi Scheme. All you need to do is manage to get a hold of enough followers and likes and you’re strolling down Easy Street with a grin on your lips and not a care in the world. Yep, you can be anyone and have anything you want, all you need is The Secret. And Big Tim has that secret, just throw a like his way and buy his book.

Call me a party-pooper, but very seldom will you find even a nanoparticle’s share of payback even for the relatively small amount of time that it takes you to open and read, let alone discover a smidgeon of chance that the info just now sneaking through your e-mail slot so conveniently, so effortlessly, so free of charge and anonymously carries even the remotest of possibilities that the fortunes of your life will be improved.

Imagination is an intrinsically valuable resource tool and when you don’t have a lot of money, one that will ensure your survival in this worm eat worm world … but it is also explicitly not the only weapon required in your business-building armoury that you are dedicating to success.

Motivation, forged in the crucible of the real world, tacit knowledge, ruthless optimism, flexible stubbornness, selfish integrity and generous attention to detail…you know, all those old chestnuts that grandpa used to dish out with those delicious, perfectly BBQ’d burgers…even these days, sometimes still come in handy.

Yes, it is difficult to cheat an honest man, irascibly and heart-breakingly so.

Luckily, at least for Tim Ferriss-es of this world, this crazy, mixed-up, cockamamie-spinning world doesn’t maintain an oversupply of them.

Originally published in a slightly altered form at