Stress: In The Gym, Out of The Gym, and How it Affects Your Program and Progress

Andy MorganTraining Principles55 Comments

Training Experience Stress-response Graph

Training Experience Stress-response Graph

Graphs That Give You Gains: One of the lovely curves you’re about to become familiar with.

“It depends.” I hate giving this answer, but in so many cases that’s the only one that can be given. Unlike with the coaching, when people ask questions in the comments I don’t know the person and their situation, so in order to be helpful I need to either ask a follow up question, or explain a bit of theory, and by that point the person is often no longer interested and thinks I’m just being awkward by not giving the single answer that they so desperately want to hear.

Sometimes you need to read a little theory to get the answers you want…

Why should I cut back my training volume in a calorie deficit? By how much?
Are 3 sets better than 5, or 5 better than three?
How does training experience affect optimal training volume?
How little can I get away with yet maintain my gains?

It all comes down to stress: Training is a stress that we put on our bodies to force adaptation. You need to manage stress and recovery to make optimal gains. This article provides a framework to help show you how to answer those questions.

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Podcast Interview: Chase Erwin (Architects of

Andy MorganPodcasts5 Comments

Coach Chase Erwin Architects of Aesthetics


Subscribe-on-Stitcher-button-mediumFinally, after what seems like months of messing around I’ve figured out how to upload the Podcasts to iTunes. So here we are as promised.

My first guest is Chase Erwin. Chase is physique competitor and trainer based out of Little Rock Arkansas. He coaches people online similar to what I do through his site

Today you’re going to hear us talk about both our training histories, the experiences that made him the coach he is today, how he overcame being skinny, and we discuss what really makes him tick – why he loves his job.

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A Full Guide To Progressing With Chin-ups

Andy MorganTraining Principles58 Comments

Ring Chinups

Ring Chinups

Chin-ups are a great upper-back exercise. You know it, and I’m not going to waffle on with an unnecessary paragraph explaining why. They’re hard, which is why most gym bros avoid doing them, well, at least with anything approaching good form. Most people stay the hell away from them and stick to the lat-pulldown machine instead. Their loss, don’t make it yours. Here’s what this article covers:

  • A guide to adjusting resistance to optimise the training effect.
  • A full progression guide from rank beginner through to advanced trainee.
  • Chin-ups vs pull-ups – which you should do and when.
  • Common technique mistakes and considerations for long-term joint health.

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Announcement: Taking A Break

Andy MorganNews & Site Introductions53 Comments

Coaching Break

February 10th, 2015. (Apply here to get on the waiting list.)

Two years ago I’m sitting in the airport with a friend Mark. It’s a couple of weeks before Christmas and we’re off to the tiny island of Palau in the middle of the pacific Ocean for a week’s scuba diving holiday. It’s inconvenient to get to, expensive when you get there, but one of the best places in the world for it.

Up until that morning, all week it looked very much like we wouldn’t be able to go – a typhoon had just ripped through destroying a large part of the island’s infrastructure and wrecking the sea visibility, but we got an e-mail from the dive company saying that it had cleared up, so we raced to the airport.

Our bags checked in, we had an hour before boarding. I pull out my laptop to get some work done before the flight.

- No charger.

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The 9 Categories of Trainee: Their Mistakes, How to Avoid Them, and What You Can Achieve When You Get Things Right (Pt.3of3)

Andy MorganGoal Setting99 Comments

Physique Goal Setting | Part 3

The final part in the series. We’ll cover four categories of trainees, Fat & Weak, with it’s related category Obese, and two types of skinny-fat, which I define separately as Skinny-fat and Purgatory.

  • What to do if you’re Overweight but New to Training.
  • How to Avoid the Skinny-fat Trap and What to Do if you’re Stuck in it.

The latter two categories are going to apply to a lot of frustrated people, and while I may not have the answers you want to hear, I do have the answers that you need to if you’re going to break out of the cycle and finally start making progress. (Click for part 1 and part 2.)

Audio version available ↓

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‘The Lean Muscle Diet’ – A Detailed Review of Lou Schuler and Alan Aragon’s New Book

Andy MorganNews & Site Introductions37 Comments

The Lean Muscle Diet - Cover Crop

Lou Schuler is an award-winning fitness journalist and author. Alan Aragon is one of the world’s most influential figures in the modern movement towards evidence-based sports nutrition. They have the best part of 50 years of experience on the right side of this industry between them, an this is their first book collaboration.

Knowing the work of both of these gentleman, it was a foregone conclusion that this book was going to be good, and it doesn’t disappoint. Despite high expectations it has still managed to pleasantly surprise me in multiple places, and I feel it falls short in only one. This is an excellent book, and I’d go as far as to say it’s probably the best book on dieting that I think has hit mainstream bookstore shelves in… well, ever really.

Ready? Let’s get into the details then.

Audio version of this review available ↓

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What To Do When You Can’t Count – A Letter From Two Soldiers In Afghanistan

Andy MorganClient Stories & Results7 Comments

Letter from Afghanistan

This is not the first e-mail I’ve had from soldiers in a war zone, but it is the first that I was told I was free to publish. I enjoy reading military biographies, history, and war stories, so I’ve been keen to publish one of these for a while.

The soldiers talk about the difficulties they faced while trying to get their diet and training right while away, and how they overcame them. This may seem like a strange thing to focus your attention on while you’re in such a place, but it’s quite common among service personnel, and I can definitely see how pounding the weights would be a nice distraction. Working to get your diet right to support that is the natural extension.

It gave me great pleasure to read this, and I hope you can take something away from it too.

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The 9 Categories of Trainee: Their Mistakes, How to Avoid Them, and What You Can Achieve When You Get Things Right (Pt.2of3)

Andy MorganGoal Setting57 Comments

Physigue Goal Setting | Part 2

This is the second part in my serial guide helping you to identify where you’re at now so that you can set your diet and training up accordingly to make the fastest possible progress. (Part 1 here.)

This part we cover two categories of trainees, Skinny, and Shredded. – Very different physiques, but very much related in terms of diet strategy. Two lessons here:

  • Why You Are Still Skinny, What You Need to Change, and What Pitfalls You Need to Avoid.
  • How to Slow-Bulk – Avoiding the Dream-Bulk Trap

I share a lot of my own personal lessons in this part of the guide having languished in that skinny category for a long, long time and also having gone on a couple of dream-bulks myself.

Audio version available ↓

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The 9 Categories of Trainee: Their Mistakes, How to Avoid Them, and What You Can Achieve When You Get Things Right (Pt.1of3)

Andy MorganGoal Setting91 Comments

Physique Goal Setting | Part 1

I have had to decline nearly half of all coaching applicants in the last three and a half years because the expectations on what they thought could be achieved, and my opinion on what would realistically be achieved, simply could not be reconciled.

The reason for this huge disconnect is simple – the exceptional results of the drug-enhanced or genetically elite are promoted as being normal by the industry. We are told that when results don’t pan out to the expectations we were sold on, we just need to buy a new, more specialised training program (and maybe some more equipment), along with, of course, the appropriate supplement stack  – because the one that we purchased before wasn’t right for our body type, or biology, or something like that. This process spirals out of control, people eventually get frustrated and give up, and the collective result is that we’ve all pitched in to buy Mike Chang and his friends another Lamborghini.

Audio version available ↓

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Simplifying Your Way To Shreds – Katsu’s Story

Andy MorganClient Stories & Results23 Comments Results - Katsu

The picture above is of a former client Katsunobu, winning his masters class (50+) bodybuilding competition. It is possible that this means even more to me than it does to him. For me it represents the culmination of three years of effort.

Katsu is the first real bodybuilder to take our Japanese site seriously enough to consider competing with the minimum. I mean 2 meals a day, three days a week training and no cardio. This is in stark contrast to the typical 5-6 meals a day, 5-6 days of training + cardio that pervades here, and is a big win for the science-based crowd and our battle against the industry nonsense here.

It wasn’t a smooth ride. It started with an argument (almost), and ended up with him on stage a little over a year after our first contact. Here’s the translation of the Japanese article, but with a bit more emotion and background inserted in there. Thank you to those that responded on the Facebook page when I asked, I really had no idea that you’d be so interested.

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