A realization:

More effective to train for strength (powerlifting) and gain muscle as a consequence, than to strive to maximize muscle growth.

Why the difference matters

In trying to maximize muscle growth, you engage in all this strange behavior:

  1. Taking all these weird supplements and protein powders
  2. Frustration of not being able to put on muscle (feeling bad about your “genetics”)
  3. Too much time at the gym training your muscles to “failure”.

Physics don’t lie.

Why I prefer powerlifting:

With bodybuilding, physique and proportions are subjective. In powerlifting, the weight you lift is objective and physics-based.

For example let’s say you enter a bodybuilding competition. Whether you win or lose is up the judges and their tastes. But with powerlifting the question is much simpler:

Can you lift that weight? Yes or no. (Binary)

The muscle will come anyways

I used to focus on bodybuilding-styled training in college and was often frustrated that my “gains”didn’t happen enough. I blamed my East-Asian genetics for “not being able to put on as much muscle as other races”. Then comes the pseudo-scientific notions of “ectomorph”— which becomes this depressing “learned helplessness”(no matter how hard I train, I’ll never become that muscular, because my genetics suck.

Powerlifting is where it is at.

Switching to powerlifting was the best decision of my life. Starting around age 24, I’ve been having so much more fun. No more protein powder. I just eat meat and eggs. I still engage in intermittent fasting while powerlifting, and I’ve been able to increase my “one rep max”every week by around 5 pounds for a long time (assuming I don’t have interrupted training). As a Korean-American, at age 31, body weight of 169, height of 5 foot 10, I’ve been able to deadlift 430 (sumo), squat 325, and dumbbell press 100 pounds. My dad is a skinny dude, and I have relatively small wrists and “not big”bones.

Just increase your one rep max by 5 pounds every week.

As a consequence of focusing on increasing my “one rep max”, I’ve been able to naturally put on a lot of muscle mass “without trying”. I don’t eat immediately after lifting. I often lift at noon, and won’t eat until 6-9pm at night. I don’t take protein powder (haven’t since college). Also I’ve never taken creatine or any supplements in my life. Needless to say I don’t take steroids. No vitamins either. My only drug is black coffee and caffeine. And I don’t eat anything before going to the gym (I always lift while in a “fasted”state).

My only goal is this:

Add 5 pounds to my squat and deadlift every week (two 2.5 pound weights on each side).

Of course there are weeks I don’t succeed. But I’ll just take off the week, and try again the week after.

Powerlifting for fun

I have great ego, self-esteem. I lift for fun. For me, it’s 1000x more fun than playing video games, watching Netflix, movies, or any other passive thing. When I’m bored I like to lift. Why? Lifting is fun, challenging, and primal. I feel the most alive when I’m lifting.

Also, when you’re lifting and gaining muscular strength, you release a huge rush of positive hormones. You feel stronger, more alert, more alive, more epic, and more beast-demigod like.

Also once again — by just focusing on getting really fucking strong, OF COURSE you will get muscle!!! It’s impossible to not increase muscular strength without putting on muscle mass (skeletal muscle mass).

The secret to lean gains

My bodyfat percentage is less than 10%, and I got a 6 pack. The secret:

Don’t eat sugar or carbs and do intermittent fasting.

For example, I don’t eat rice, pasta, bread, potatoes (regardless of the color), I don’t eat starch, corn syrup, sugar, sweets, dessert, batter, sauces, etc. I don’t eat any grains, beans, or strange pseudo-vegan foods. Also I don’t eat starchy veggies like carrots, cauliflower, or broccoli.

The only veggies I eat are “true”veggies— the leafy greens. This means cabbage, kale, collard greens. I love fermented foods too — kimchi, sauerkraut, and natto (Japanese fermented bean curd).

Also, don’t take protein powder. It’s the biggest scam. Just eat tons of fatty meats (pork, beef, dark meat chicken) and eggs. If I can gain all this powerlifting strength ( with “poor”genetics) and NOT consume protein powder or supplements, so can you!

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