The first thing that I want to mention is that Beast Life is a lifestyle. It involves virtually every decision you make during the day. When to wake up, when to go to bed, what to eat, when to eat, and eventually, how you spend your money. When you put in the work, you want the best results, and the best results come from making the right choices in all these areas. There is no half-assing Beast. Lifting is either a lifestyle or a hobby; and we all know how hobbies get pushed down on the priority list. Before you know it, you’re just as fat and weak as you’ve ever been. When you wake up, remind yourself of why you’re living the Beast Life.
- Lift progressively. If your goal is to bench press 135 lbs for 3 sets of 10 repetitions, and you get all of the reps for each set, then the next week you need to attempt 140 lbs for 3 x 10.
- To start off, don’t build a program that has you lifting less than 3 times per week or more than 5 times. Don’t lift a muscle group more than once a week. Push these limits if you want after you’ve been lifting for a few years. Rest days are vital, especially for older men. You grow when you are resting because your body is repairing the muscle break down that you did while lifting. Also, get sleep. 8 hours is preferable. No less than 6, if you can induce a good REM cycle in that short time.
- Eat to grow. Whether you are trying to be lean and athletic, or hulk-like, protein needs to be on your mind every meal. At a minimum, shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. More if you are seriously bulking. Your body breaks down protein daily, all the more when you lift. Consuming these levels of protein prevent muscle loss and help build new muscle. Carbohydrates are also key. Eat less to be lean, more to grow. If you are starting from excess body fat, minimize carbohydrates until you get down to below 25℅ body fat. There are several popular diets that give more guidance to this, such as the slow carb diet, Atkins, Paleo, and low carb.
- There are two ways to over load your muscles, which causes them to grow. Lifting very heavy weights, or lifting very high repetitions. Good programs mix both. Heavy sets are typically 3 x 5, 5 x 5, 3 x 3, or even 5,3,1. High rep sets are 3 x 20, 10 x 10, 5 x 20, or 4 x 30.
- Change is your friend. If you ever get to a point where you are not seeing steady progress, change things up. Swap an exercise, change your reps and sets, pick a heavy week and a high rep week. Changing a routine that is no longer progressing shocks your system into growing again.
- Join a gym. 90℅ of people in the western world live within a short distance of a gym with free weights. Memberships fees vary but most fall under $30 a month. Some might be as high as $50, but either way, make the small sacrifice. If you belong to the 10℅ who live on a farm or small town without gym access, check out the next article for alternatives.
- Get headphones and crank some tunes. You’re not there to bullshit with other guys about sports. That’s what your job is for. Your time in the gym is for feeding the beast. Over the ear Bluetooth are preferable, and will run as little as $10-$15 at Wal-Mart. But play whatever music gives you focus and energy. My personal favorite is Lamb of God, As The Palaces Burn. But I’ve also killed it to Carl Orff’s O’ Fortuna and other badass classics.
- Bench press: this lift is everyone’s favorite. This is the macho-man lift. The big pecs, arms and shoulder base. This builds power in your first offensive instinct: punching and pushing. Watch this clip for basic form.
- Squat: this lift is the core for leg strength. Legs strength means running faster, over powering an assailant in a rush, and kicking. There are many variants of this exercise, and it is probably the least popular because there is no agony quiet like walking around the next day with screaming legs. It is something you will grow to love and hate at the same time. Watch this clip for proper form, and never sacrifice form for weight, or you risk fucking up your back for life.
- Dead lift: this lift is the king maker. It is a full body lift that hits almost all of your muscles causing massive increases in total body power. This exercise works your body so hard that it will cause significant increases in your growth hormone and testosterone production. Watch this clip for proper form. Again, never sacrifice form for weight or else you risk fucking yourself up for life.
- Pull up: this not usually grouped with the first three because they are Olympic standard lifts for the power lifting sport. However, none of those lifts really target the back and biceps. A strong back is vital for supporting your first three lifts, but also having a broad muscular back is what separates beasts from pretty boys. Start with just body weight and add weight from a chain belt later. If you cannot do a single pull up some gyms will have assistance machines. Or grab another lifter to hold your feet. Or just do dead arm hangs and pull for 5-10 second intervals. Be patient, the strength will come.
Whatever program you decide to build for yourself needs to start with these exercises and go outward.
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What about supplements? When I was in my late teens, I swore by a certain brand of amino acids (can’t remember which) and smilax (South American Sarsaparilla in an alcohol base). Neither are still available, and I have no idea if they were really all that effective or if it was just the fact that I was lifting with serious bodybuilders and eating right. Supplements haven’t been a part of my various fitness regimes in the decades since. I got into great shape in my early thirties without them, but I wasn’t trying to bulk up at all. I’m not looking to now really, but I also want to increase my strength. I know how to lift for strength and I know what foods to eat, but at my age any help from supplements–if truly effective–would be nice.
I go over supps in the next article. Amino acids are a good supplement, but like creatine you get all that you need from a high protien, meat, eggs, dairy diet.
As a 50 year old lifter, I get as much protein as I can. I eat a lot of meat, especially beef, and also drink whey shakes. You can get good deals on bulk whey concentrate if you look around. Older bodies are not as efficient at muscle protein synthesis, so you need more protein than a younger man would.
A bigger problem for me is sufficient sleep. Go to bed early. Especially true if you have a tendency, as I do, to wake up in the middle of the night. Better to wake up at 2 am and go back to sleep at 4 than to wake up at 5 am and be stuck awake till breakfast.
I congratulate on your decision to get lifting again. I live in a high crime area, and the bigger you are, the less you look like a victim, grey hair or not. In the current year, lifting is not optional for men.
ZMA is known to promote restful sleep. Also, USP labs has a product called PowerFULL, which claims to promote HGH. I can’t speak to that, but it does knock you the fuck out for a solid 7-8 hours. You don’t want to take sleep aides long term, but sometimes just getting your sleep cycle retrained is all you really need.
“You’re not there to bullshit with other guys about sports”
I socialize some. Most bros are good people, high-discipline, focused on self-improvement. Good friends to have.
If someone’s wearing headphones, I leave them alone.
Yeah. I get asked for advice pretty often. Just don’t let it be a time killer. Growth comes from intensity. If you’re distracted you’re not giving it the insane intensity that it takes.
Thanks. I’ve always suspected that any supplement that actually works is eventually banned. I know when I was taking smilax I got into a lot of fights. Stuff I usually wouldn’t sweat would set me off. They stopped seeking it in the alcohol base not to soon after I graduated high school.