10 Commandments of Gainz - The Ultimate Muscle Building Guide
Core Nutritionals CEO Doug Miller
MTS Nutrition CEO Marc Lobliner
High Performance Nutrition CEO Sean Torbati
With Core Nutritionals Assistant Sales Director Andrew Pardue
After two seminar-filled tours across Australia and countless events throughout America, the Gainz Alliance has collected the best questions asked of them and their corresponding responses into what is now considered "The 10 Commandments of Gainz." The lessons learned in the gym have helped all three CEOs to not only achieve impressive physiques, but to also improve every other aspect of their lives including their business ventures, family life and ability to handle stress and adversity on a daily basis.
The 10 Commandments of Gainz
1. Crush IT® - Intensity Separates (Doug Miller)Ask me a decade ago what the number one most important factor in physique development was and I would have probably said "diet." Fast forward to now, and after decades of training, eating and just completely living the bodybuilding lifestyle, I can confidently say that training intensity is the #1 separator of bodybuilders that see consistent progress and those left wondering why they aren't reaching their goals.
Every workout, every set, every rep, I make it my goal for it to be my most intense set yet. 495lbs deadlifts for a 20-rep set last week; you better believe I'm doing everything within my power to get at least 21 reps the following week. Busy Monday morning and a million things on my plate at work - no question about it that I'm still treating that day's workout as if it's life or death.
This same idea is how I approach business and the development of Core Nutritionals. Every day in the office is another day to improve not only the growth of my company, but also my personal growth as a person and as a CEO. No matter how big or small the opportunity to grow is, I'm taking it and absolutely maximizing how much I can improve from it; because while my team and I are growing, someone else out there is wasting the chance and allowing us to continue changing the industry.
So after your next workout, take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror, and if you can't honestly say to yourself you gave it your all on every set, every rep, then you are not living the CRUSH IT lifestyle. But you can do something about it next time; and the next time; and the next time!
2. It's Not A Game®: Take Training Seriously (Marc Lobliner)It's all fun and games when I say, "it's not a game" at the end of my YouTube videos, but I can assure you it's never fun and games when it comes time to train. Sure I enjoy meeting fans, customers, and friends like Doug and Sean for a workout, but when it comes time to lift, it's time to lift.
Between YouTube channel comments, emails, and questions at expos, everyone asks for the key to getting bigger, faster or stronger. Then they train alongside me once and immediately know the answer. Just as Doug mentioned above, training should be intense and an athlete should be looking to progress every single workout. The gym isn't a social club, it's not a texting lounge, it's a freakin battleground.
If you're going to pay hard earned money to have a membership, use your gas to drive there, and spends hours each week in the gym, why not get the absolute most return on your investment as possible and get shit done? Don't talk about wanting the next great physique then spend 30 minutes of every workout texting your buddies or hitting on chicks; spend that 60-90 minutes to train your ass off and force your body to adapt and grow! Then of course, hit on the chicks before you leave.
3. Organic As Fuck®: Eat Whole, Nutrient Dense Foods (Sean Torbati)Ever since the popularization of if it fits your macros (IIFYM), social media is filled with people posting and bragging about eating as much junk food as they can fit into their daily macronutrient goals while still losing fat or gaining muscle. Due to the law of thermodynamics, sure if energy balance is correct then a person can gain or lose weight by simply hitting their target calories for the day through processed, nutrient lacking foods.
The question is though, is that optimal for your body? Are you supporting optimal performance and growth through those types of food choices? More importantly, are you supporting long-term health by filling your macros with Pop-Tarts, Big Macs and washing it down with protein shakes?
The answer is no.
Our bodies need a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to not only perform at their best, but also to recover, grow and feel their best. By not eating from a variety of food groups and basing your diet around nutrient dense, minimally processed foods, you're missing out on a TON of muscle building, fat losing, health supporting opportunities that could benefit you for years to come.
4. Don't Just Track It, Plan It (Doug Miller)Smart phone apps can make planning and keeping up with a diet easier than ever. That being said, too many times I see young lifters that follow an IIFYM approach go about their day with zero planning, relying on their diet app and plugging in foods they come across throughout the day, hoping they can find the necessary foods to fit their macros. If the day gets busy, their diet goes to crap. If they only come across questionable fast food, they're stuck with low quality fuel to get them through the day.
I own multiple businesses, have a growing family to take care of, and am constantly on the go between attending events and expos, traveling to meetings, and just keeping up with daily life. I make a point before each day starts to get a general outline of my meals for the day then pack what I need before leaving the house, so no matter where I'm at, I am prepared and can fuel my body with the absolute best food choices possible. This is not to say I eat out of Tupperware every meal, as I do in fact eat out a lot; I plan ahead places where we can order healthy foods that will hit my macros.
Limited space to pack away entire meals or can't bring a cooler with you? That's where a high quality meal replacement like Core MRP or MTS Nutrition Macrolution comes in handy as a convenient, whole food-based calorie source easily packed away in a backpack or suitcase. At the end of the day, if you fail to plan, you're planning to fail.
5. Supplements Not Substitutes (Sean Torbati)Doug's comment about quality meal replacements is actually a perfect segue into Commandment #5. Treat supplements just as what they are, supplements - not substitutes - to a sound diet.
All three of us make our living through the supplement industry. However, we will be the first to tell you that even the best supplements are minimally effective without first having a solid diet and training program in place.
Protein powders can help us meet our dietary protein intake for the day. Pre-workout supplements can help enhance training performance on days we're not feeling our best. Thermogenics and hormone modulators can create a more optimal environment for fat loss and muscle growth.
Despite their benefits, without first providing our bodies with the vast foundational nutrients found in whole, minimally processed foods, we're essentially putting better tires on a car with a terrible engine. Sure the tires may look cool and help the car ride go a bit smoother, but they can't compensate for the clunking engine barely keeping us moving forward.
When you ask any of us what the best stack to take for a given fitness goal is, our very first response is going to be "How is your diet? Are you tracking your intake everyday?" Once you get the foundation set, that's when adding in supplements is really going to make the difference and further help you toward your goals.
That being said, we have a list of supplements we believe should make up the foundation of anyone's supplement stash. While some can be considered health supplements and others considered performance supplements, they all help contribute to better performance, recovery, and energy anyone can benefit from.
- HPN N(4) Ultra Platinum Grade Omega
- HPN N(r) Niagen
Performance Must-HavesCreatine Monohydrate
- Core Nutritionals Creatine Monohydrate
- HPN C(2) Ultra Premium with Creapure®
- MTS Nutrition Creapure® Creatine
- Core Nutritionals Core ABC
- MTS Nutrition Machine Fuel
- Core Nutritionals Beta Alanine or Core ABC
- HPN P(3) Pure Energy Powder
- MTS Nutrition Machine Whey
- HPN (PRO)ZERO
- Core Nutritionals Core PRO
6. The CORE Four (Squat, Deadlift, Bench, Overhead Press) (Marc Lobliner)By incorporating more compound lifts into your workout program you can recruit more muscle fibers per exercise than you would by basing your workouts around isolation exercises like bicep curls or leg extensions. Going back to my gym ROI example, it makes much more sense to spend the majority of your time on exercises that recruit and build as many muscle fibers as possible.
That's why forming your training program around the core four lifts is one of the best training decisions you can make as an athlete. Squats activate muscle fibers throughout essentially the entire lower body. Deadlifts build everything from grip strength, to the back and core, to even quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Between the bench press and overheard press, you've got the chest, shoulders, and triceps covered.
After focusing on consistently progressing in these four lifts, then is the time to begin adding in isolation movements throughout the week for additional volume and muscle stimulus.
From time to time people will mention that certain exercises just don't feel right, whether it flares up an old injury, or just doesn't feel smooth for their body structure. That's when it's a good idea to try out variations of these four exercises to find those that you can perform safely yet still crush it each and every workout.
Below we've listed some Core Four alternatives that are great substitutes when the original version isn't an option. For an added challenge, you can also pre-exhaust with some isolation exercises and then perform the Core Four!
Barbell Back Squats
- Machine Squats
- Goblet Squats
- Front Squats
- Smith Machine Squats
- Dumbbell Deadlifts
- Rack Deads
- Hammer Strength Shrug Machine Deadlifts
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Hammer Strength Chest Press
- Machine Chest Press
- Seated Dumbbell or Barbell Press
- Hammer Strength Overhead Press
- Smith Machine Overhead Press
- Seated Dumbbell Arnold Press
7. There is No Offseason - You Can't Be a Part-time Bodybuilder (Doug Miller)At the beginning of a new diet or training program it's easy to be consistent. Between the excitement of getting started toward your goals and all the new gym gear you just bought, hitting the gym every day and maintaining your diet is a breeze. Then, a few weeks into the plan, most people are going to start slacking off. Sooner rather than later most people quit altogether for months at a time, only to become re-inspired and start the cycle all over again.
These same people are the ones that never seem to make any noticeable progress and are constantly left frustrated. That's because there is no such thing as a part-time bodybuilder. it's a lifestyle plain and simple. If you aren't willing to do what's necessary every day, even on days you may not necessarily feel like it, there's no chance you're going to reach your fitness goals.
And if you're a competitor, remember, you don't grow while in contest prep; growth and progress only really occurs during the growth season when in a calorie surplus!
8. Strive for Balance - Don't let Bodybuilding Take Over Your Life (Marc Lobliner)More times than I care to discuss I've seen people lose friendships, get fired from their jobs, and even get divorced over issues that arose from them being in contest prep. I've never understood how it could reach that point with people considering essentially nobody is going to pay their bills through being in physique competitions.
At the end of the day, bodybuilding is supposed to enrich our lives. It provides us all a long-term goal to train for, helps us keep attention on our health, and even provides an outlet for stress relief after a long day at work. The worst thing we can do is have something that's meant to be enjoyable and turn it into something ugly. Regardless of whether we're in contest prep or working towards that offseason PR you've been shooting for the last several years, you have to remember bodybuilding is only part of your life, not what your life should solely revolve around.
All three of us own multiple businesses, have significant others, and for Doug and myself, we also have young children. No matter how much we have going on, we always find time to train but more importantly always find time for those we're close to. After all, having a killer physique isn't going to be very fun if you're left all alone after being selfish and not giving those around you the time they deserve.
9. Bring Da Ruckus® - Give Everything Your 120% Best Effort (Sean Torbati)Not just your training, not just your diet, but in EVERYTHING you do - give it your 120% best effort if you truly want to reach your potential. If any of us want to improve our weaknesses, inside or outside of the gym, we have no other option than to give it everything we have.
it's easy to focus on our strengths, that's the fun part, but if we truly want to be successful in everything we do, we have to recognize the areas we need improvement in and do everything we can to bring those areas up in order to become the well-rounded person we need to be. If we're not constantly searching for ways to get better and work harder than we did the day before, all we're doing is selling ourselves short and limiting the things we can achieve in life.
10. GRIND - No Shortcuts - Just Consistent, Hard Work (Doug Miller)It always amazes me how many people get into this sport expecting a quick fix. After only months of training, I hear of young people all the time that are looking for the best steroid cycle to run, or training with minimal intensity and wondering why they aren't jacked. What they don't understand is that building a good physique; heck building anything of worth in life really, is a marathon and not a sprint.
There are no quick fixes, no short cuts, no magic pills; there's only hard work, smart decisions, and consistency. Even in business, it's taken years of grinding for our companies before they really began taking off and growing like you see them today.
The same holds true for our physiques; we've worked hard each and every day, for years on end to gradually achieve the physiques we have today, and that same work ethic will never stop because we've seen just how beneficial consistent, hard work is in the long run. If you truly want to succeed one day, being willing to put in the time every single day, for years on end, is a must.