I first started serious weight lifting when I was in the Army, over twenty years ago. There were two main reasons at the time that I started to lift weights: 1) I had a big mouth and got myself into trouble with another soldier who was a) much bigger than me and who b) seriously intended to beat the shit out of me and 2) I was always a relatively skinny guy at 6’2” and around 150lbs and I was tired of being a scrawny guy.
Looking back, at the time I didn’t realize how smart of a decision it was to get into the gym. I was stationed in an ammunition depot in backwater Germany and since it was an ammunition depot that previously housed nukes, it wasn’t near anything of interest so there was nothing for the soldiers to do but get into trouble to entertain themselves (and I did plenty of that). But going to the gym did several things; it got me out of the barracks for a couple hours each night, it encouraged a good diet and less drinking, and most importantly, I gained weight and my nemesis took notice and the relationship cooled (but only a bit, mutual destruction was always an option).
When I left the Army, the passion for the gym subsided and for years I didn’t do much to keep myself fit until I met the husband of my wife’s boss (at the time). Kurt was doing the P90X program and looked good and without realizing it, he talked me into starting it.
P90X is a good program to build a lean, muscular body. It’s heavy on cardio and resistance training and the great thing about it is you don’t need any free-weights to do it; just a set of exercise bands, a set of push-up bars and a pull up bar. I did P90X for about two years and at my peak I weighed 172 lbs, had the same waist-line as when I was in the Army (twenty years ago) and was at 18% body-fat. But somewhere in the last year I decided I wanted to put on weight ,a lot of weight, and I discovered Paul Carter and his site Lift-Run-Bang (LRB).
There are a few reasons why I decided to start incorporating his program into my own; he spends more time talking about the wrong way to lift, which causes injuries and for someone new-ish to the gym, this is important. Another reason is that he writes a lot on his blog. This helps you to understand his lifting (and life) philosophy and it allows you to dip your toes in the water without the risk of buying something and then realizing it doesn’t fit your way of working. He’s also huge. Tony Horton (of P90X) is ripped, but he isn’t massive and I want to put on weight so I looked for someone with a larger physique and Paul Carter certainly fits that bill.
After pouring over several of Paul’s blog posts, I bought his eBook titled Strength Life Legacy, which not only has workouts but also explains his workout principles and philosophy. The workouts in that book are more advanced than I’m ready for though, so what I did was start to incorporate his principles into my workout and started doing a modified P90X ala Paul Carter workout and I started to see good results; I was gaining strength and mass. And then he released Inception: Beginners Manual For Mass and Strength, which I snatched up immediately.
The manual defines a program broken down into two, six-week phases: Hypertrophy and Strength. The first phase is intended to get one used to lifting weights the right way and also used to working hard regularly. It also focuses on building mass through hypertrophy. The second phase focuses on building on that foundation and increasing strength (which will also build mass). I hope to eventually write a proper review of the whole program at some point but I wanted to first share what I’ve experienced so far; it has been a great success for me in the first phase.
For the last six weeks, my workout routine has been two days of chest and leg work followed by a day of steady-state cardio, followed by two more days of chest and leg work followed by a day of steady-state cardio and a day of rest. I’ve tried to incorporate 100% of his program. The reason I say “I tried” is because it takes a while to mentally ingest and understand the program. Each time I reread the manual I find something I either missed or didn’t understand before. So if you are going to incorporate this into your workout, be patient and reread the material, especially if your relatively new to weight training.
The first post you should read at LRB is: Lessons: Things I would tell my younger self about getting bigger and stronger.
My progress over the last 16 months:
My arms have gained 1.25”
My chest has gained .75”
My thighs have gained 3.5”
I’ve gained 13 pounds and am at 20% body fat (I’m obviously not being strict enough with my diet). Progress for me will be slower because my height means my muscles are longer, taking more mass to fill more space. But that also means once I get a decent amount of mass, I’ll look even bigger because of my height.
Stay tuned for further progress!