FAQ: Leangains Diet and Training

Andy MorganDiet & Nutrition, Training1021 Comments

Click to skip to Diet FAQ, Training FAQ.

Latest Updates:
30th May: Injury
19th Jan: Secondary Exercises
2nd June Irregular work hours
19th April Strength Losses
18th April RPT Top set Weight
19th April Back-off set weight

6th April Calf Training
27th Mar. Skipped Sessions
14th Mar.
Hunger problems
13th Mar.Bench Press strength drop

Questions in the comments welcome. I’ll answer you to the best of my ability.

Diet Questions List:
  1. Alcohol: Is it banned on this diet?
  2. How quickly can I expect results?
  3. Should I cut or slow-bulk?
  4. Carb sources: Can I eat ‘xxx’ carb source? Is it ok to eat saturated fat vs poly…?
  5. Hunger fears: Andy, skipping breakfast, that’s xx hours without food! I can’t do it!
  6. Meal Frequency: Can I eat 4 meals instead of 2 or 3?
  7. Timing mistakes: I ate lunch a little later today, should I eat dinner later too and adjust the fasting window?
  8. Trace CarbsDo I need to count the carbs in [fruit name]/dairy/sauce etc. ?
  9. Trace Protein: Do I need to factor in the trace amounts of protein in rice/quinoa and the trace amount of carbs in things like cottage cheese?
  10. Fruit: Do I add that as normal carbs or is it different due to not being ‘starchy’?
  11. Fish oil: I currently have a bottle of fish oil softgels that measure 1000mg/softgel. Should I be taking a total of 4g of fish oil a day then, or should I opt for a lower dosage? When should I take them?
  12. Salt: I have some turkey patties in the freezer. Is the high sodium content a concern?
  13. Too full: I feel very full and I’ve been finding it hard to hit my macro numbers on Training Days. As I am on a cut is it detrimental to eat less?
  14. Paleo: I follow the Paleo diet. What should I do about carb sources?
  15. Supplements: What about them?
  16. Self Belief: I lack it. :'( Can you whisper sweet, motivational things to me?
  17. Frying: Is cooking with oil ok on Training Days?
  18. Frozen Veggies: For Green Veggies, I usually go buy the frozen bags at the grocery store and microwave them, Is that cool?
  19. Weighing food: Do I need to weigh everything?
  20. Water: How much should I be drinking?
  21. Protein Shakes: Are they ok to use?
  22. Water-weight loss: What do you mean by “initial water-weight loss”?
  23. Sleep: Why is it important?
  24. Training Day surplus: Why do we do this even if cutting?
  25. Diet Soda: Can I drink it? What about tea or coffee?
  26. Cheat Days“: How do you feel about them?
  27. Hunger problems: I feel hungry during the fast, why?
  28. Irregular work hours: How do I set things up?
****    Training Questions follow    ****
Diet Questions:
1. Alcohol: Is it banned on this diet?

- No, but as alcohol has calories, it has the potential to screw everything up. Why? Dietary fat can be easily stored if you go over your calorie budget for the day. On the occasions that you are going to drink, some very general rules that will take you a long way:

  • Keep dietary fat low on this day.
  • Drinking beer? Make it a training day.
  • Drinking diet mixers and spirits? Make it a rest day.

I’ve written a guide to drinking alcohol on a diet here with details and reasons for the above. Skip to sections on: Once a week moderate to ‘hard’ drinking” or Drinking in moderation a few times a week.”

Do not abuse the guide and use it as an excuse for excessive alcohol consumption or you will just screw up your progress.

2. How quickly can I expect results?

– I’ve written about this in detail in the article 12 Weeks: What you can expect to achieve.

3. Should I cut or slow-bulk?

– This is a good question. With the exception of those already strikingly lean (in-season bodybuilders/fitness competitors) and athlete clients that have other considerations more important that bf%, you should probably do a cut first, even if your goal is to bulk. This sounds counter-logical but there is a very good reason for this.

By getting lean first, you make yourself more leptin and insulin sensitive. This is great for two reasons. Firstly, it means we can eat more carbs and not get fat, and secondly is makes muscle-building easier as the carbs will be shuttled off into the muscles more efficiently in the post-workout window rather than being stored as fat.

So by getting lean first, we can build more muscle and store less fat when eating a calorie surplus while on this I.F. diet. Want to bulk and still keep your abs to a certain extent? First cut, then do a slow-bulk. If you’re already quite lean this may only take a month.

I’ve written in much greater detail in my article, “Identifying Where You Are Now, Setting Realistic Goals, and Your Best Course Of Action.

4. Carb & Fat Sources: Can I eat ‘xxx’ carb source? Is it ok to eat saturated fat vs poly…?

- For diet success don’t stress this. Don’t distinguish any further than Carbs*/Fat*/Protein. Brown vs. white rice is a non-issue. Want to eat a cake*? – Please do. Just count it against your daily macronutrient allowance. (*Example of how to do this.)

*There are exceptions, but these are beyond the scope of here. For the carbs, just make sure you get most of them from whole foods (pasta, rice, bread, potatoes etc…) 80% of the time and you’ll be fine. This is to minimize chances of spill-over into fat stores on your workout days. I’ve expanded on this with and included a quote from Lyle McDonald in the comments below. If you wish to get geekier than that then see the glucose vs. sucrose vs. fructose part of this article by Martin Berkhan.

If you wish to simplify things then go by the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) philosophy, which doesn’t just mean stuff your face with crappy food, but does give you flexibility. There’s a good article summing it up by JCDeen here. Further details in a good video on “Clean eating vs IIFYM” by Layne Norton here

5. Hunger Fears: Andy, skipping breakfast, that’s xx hours without food! I can’t do it! Seriously?

 – Yes you can do it. It’s just a case of your body adjusting. This whole website is littered with comments from people amazed at how they have adjusted and are feeling great. Our ancestors did this and so can you. The only difference so far is the length of time clients take to adjust. Some are fine straight away, for others it takes 1.5 weeks. Typically though it is 4-7 days.

6. Meal Frequency: Can I eat 4 meals instead of 2 or 3?

- Yes but why complicate things? This is just due to a fear of hunger, which will not be an issue.

7. Timing Mistakes: I ate lunch a little later today, should I eat dinner later too and adjust the fasting window?

- No. The key here is consistency. Just because you miss one meal time, doesn’t mean you adjust the other. Your hormones get used to when you usually eat, so eat as close as possible to that time. Keep things as regular as possible, but don’t stress the occasional day when timing is off.

8. Trace Carbs: Do I need to count the carbs in [fruit name]/dairy/sauce etc.?

- This question is usually asked because I set up clients with simple rules like, “Only count starchy carbs, eat lots of leafy greens and don’t count them.”

Unfortunately there are those that will take any rule you give to help them make things simple and abuse it*. So allow me to make this clear,

If you consume a lot of [dairy/fruit/sauce etc.] then yes please do it. If you’re just talking about small quantities then it’s probably not worth bothering to count. The key is to keep consistent. Everything in reality counts. As long as when I tell you to reduce carbs later, as the diet progresses you don’t then reduce the rice/bread carbs and then up the dairy or [insert other food] intake “Because those carbs don’t count!” as some people, clearly trying to screw the laws of science do, then you’re all good.

*If you would like to read an amusing anecdote about abusing rules, check the comment titled “Apples and Mayonnaise” I’ve written in the comments below.

9. Trace Protein: Do I need to factor in the trace amounts of protein in rice/quinoa and the trace amount of carbs in things like cottage cheese?

If we are consistent, we don’t have to factor these things in. If we ignore them from the start, we can ignore them forever, and we can have success in the long-run.

10. Fruit: Do I add that as normal carbs or is it different due to not being ‘starchy’?

Carbs are carbs are carbs. They have energy. There is no escaping this. [See point 8.] I tell people not to count the green vegetables because it makes life easier. Fruits have carbs, some more than others. Anything you’re going to eat regularly is worth counting. Things you are only going to eat occasionally are probably not worth counting.

I know that some people will now take this to mean, “Ok if I’m only going to eat some fruits occasionally, it’s ok I won’t count them. So I’ll eat 5 bananas on Mondays, a whole watermelon on Tuesdays, a bunch of grapes on Wednesdays… But it’s all OK because I only eat the one kind of fruit occasionally (once a week)!”

…But then these are the kind of people who always look for shortcuts. They might make great accountants hiding your savings away from the tax-man, but there’s no shortcuts in the energy equation. They’re only going to shoot themselves in the foot. Are you?

11. Fish oil: I currently have a bottle of fish oil soft-gels that measure 1000mg/soft-gel. Should I be taking a total of 4g of fish oil a day then, or should I opt for a lower dosage? When should I take them?

It’s not the quantity of the oil (fat) that counts, what matters is meeting the EPA and DHA numbers that the research suggests is beneficial. (2g EPA 1.5g DHA /day) Inferior quality fish oil supplements take advantage of the average consumer’s ignorance of this fact. With such products it may be difficult without taking a whole lot of them, which will then put your fat number up for the day. Buy good quality fish oil. Look for those key ingredients.

Take them with your last meal of the day as fat slows the rate of digestion of a meal and keeps us feeling fuller for longer.

12. Salt: I have some turkey patties in the freezer. Is the high sodium content a concern?

In short, not unless you are a bodybuilder with a competition in a few days.

More detail for those interested:

Sodium does not matter. Only relative changes in sodium will increase your water retention, not overall consumption. So if you suddenly increase your sodium intake you will bloat; if you suddenly decrease your sodium intake you will lose water. The body adjusts to a set-point after time. (A few days I believe.)

So bodybuilders, whom need to look extra lean on one particular day cutting, sodium 2 weeks before a competition to lose water is a bad strategy, because their body will have re-adjusted to a set-point by the 2 week mark and nothing will have changed overall. Cutting sodium 2/3 days out will get them looking leaner for competition day. But in the long-run, this is not a weight loss strategy – the human body out-smarts our diet-tricks in the end.

13. Too Full: I feel very full and I’ve been finding it hard to hit my macro numbers on Training Days. As I am on a cut is it detrimental to eat less?

Firstly, everyone feels like this when they start. Typically your stomach will adjust to the large quantity of food within 2 weeks. In the meantime eating some yummy cereal is a good way to hit your macros (as long as it is low-fat cereal with low-fat milk), and don’t worry about the sugar content.

Presuming you have calculated your macros correctly, if you eat less you will not have the energy needs to recover from your workout and you will probably lack energy for your workout in a couple of days, hampering progress.

Right now I am on a bulk so my carb requirements are much higher. To hit this number I eat a box of cereal after every workout for desert*. Yes, I am still ripped. (*Lowish sugar content. I’ve stopped the ‘Choco-Flakes’ and switched to ‘Bran-Flakes’ after I realized they were 95% sugar and can potentially lead to spill-over into fat stores more easily.)  If you can eat all that rice however then please feel free to go for it. For satiety reasons I do not recommend this as a long-term strategy for those on a cut.

14. Paleo: I follow the Paleo diet. What should I do about carb sources?

I have Paleo clients. Through Twitter and blogs I know there are many people out there that are Paleo and have success with Leangains. I am not an expert in this, however if you would like to read a useful discussion about it, please see the comments on Jayson’s interview page.

What are dense carb sources on a Paleo diet? Here’s a link to an article Marc suggested in the comments.

15. Supplements: What about them?

Indeed. I’m sorry if I have spooked you by not trying to sell you any. The truth is if you said to me that I were never allowed to take another supplement again it would not bother me. Nor should it bother you. To have success on this diet you do not need supplements. “You are what you eat.” There’s no magic in supplements.

Now, taking BCAAs may be optimal if you are to train fasted, and taking protein powder is sometimes convenient when the fridge is empty, but that doesn’t mean that you need them.

The supplement industry has us all convinced that we need things we don’t. I’ve written an article about this here. Don’t just take my word for it though, how about this interesting article by Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, MA, FASEP, EPC. 

I include a simple and optional list for clients of supplements they may find useful. However this article by Martin Berkhan does a good job by itself.

16. Self Belief: I lack it. :'( Can you whisper sweet, motivational things to me?

No. Man up. If your great-grandfather were here to see the comparative ‘life of plenty’ that you are living right now, what do you think he would say about this? More in this article.

17. Frying: Is cooking with oil ok on Training Days?

Just use a small spoon each time rather than pouring it directly into the pan and you can control the portion size easily. No need to weigh it and count. This is what I do.

18: Frozen Veggies: For Green Veggies, I usually buy the frozen bags at the grocery store and microwave them, Is that cool?

That will work fine.

19: Weighing food: Do I need to weigh everything?

Certainly not. However you do need to weigh some things, especially at the start. As a general guide, weigh your un-cooked meats and carbs and eyeball everything else. I weigh my rice, pasta, potatoes and meats, and just look on the packets for the macronutrient information for others. Get a small electronic kitchen scale. I never weigh vegetables.

20. Water: How much should I be drinking?

Simply, if your urine is yellow then drink more. Of all the reason’s for this, the one you care about most is that it will help with fat burning. The liver plays an important role in fat metabolism. If I have understood correctly, if you don’t drink enough water then the kidneys can’t function at full capacity and thus the liver has to work to help them, decreasing the rate which fat can be metabolized.

You’ll definitely want to drink a good few cups to re-hydrate in the morning.

21. Protein Shakes: Are they ok to use?

Yes but there is a time and a place for them. Real food is digested and absorbed more slowly thus getting your protein from meat is better than shakes because you’ll feel full for longer.

Aside from satiety reasons, we want protein to be absorbed slowly so that our blood is still swimming with aminos during the fast, preventing muscle catabolism. In terms of rates of digestion, real food is slowest (best for us), then casein protein (5-7 hrs) then whey protein (2-3hrs). If we drink a protein shake as part of a meal then the digestion will be slowed significantly and could conceivably be double this (though there have been no studies that I know of that measure rates of digestion with mixed food meals).

In practical terms what this means is if you can’t eat meat, are too lazy to cook it or are feeling too full to hit your protein numbers: 1) Casein goes with the last meal of the day. 2) Whey with the other meals. 3) It’s better to not drink them alone.

22. Initial water-weight loss: What do you mean by this? Is it something to do with water that I have “piled up” in my body?

  • Because we’ll be cycling carbs, and putting protein high, you’ll most likely be consuming less carbohydrate overall than you currently are.
  • 1g of carbs digested takes with it 3-4g of water into the body. Thus, if we reduce carbs, “water weight” is lost in the beginning. This really varies on the individual though but it’ll usually happen all within the first week.
  • Unscrupulous diet coaches or advertising do not mention this fact to people though and let them believe they had an incredible week.

23. Sleep: Why is it important?

Jason Ferruggia explains it well, “When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases and your cortisol goes up. Both things lead to less than optimal fat loss. You also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. If you want to lose more fat you have to get more sleep. Most people will ignore this and some of you are probably reading this at 2am. Unfortunately this just might be the most important thing on the whole list. More sleep improves EVERYTHING. Make it a priority.”

24. Training Day surplus: Why do we do this even if cutting?

  1. To take full advantage of the super-compensatory effect of the increased insulin sensitivity (increased uptake of carbs into muscles rather than fat) after workouts. (This effect also appears to be heightened by fasted training, and I’d like to see more research into this.)
  2. It acts to help combat some of the “negative” hormonal changes that take place when dieting.

Whether this actually works out to be technically a surplus of not in practice depends on the individuals circumstances and is quite complicated. Very generally fatter people need less on their training days. Explaining further than this is more complicated than I’m willing to get into detail with in the blog, though I’ll probably come back and add to the hormonal thing later. (Remember, I like brevity.)

25. Diet Soda: Can I drink it? What about tea or coffee?

Yes you can drink diet soda and it will not affect your diet despite what the Youtube videos say.

“I personally could not find any research showing a causal relationship between artificially sweetened soft drinks and weight gain, let alone research indicating a thyroid-mediated mechanism for this phenomenon. Among the research that does exist, the majority of studies lasting beyond the acute phase have demonstrated the superior effectiveness of artificially sweetened beverages to sugar-sweetened ones for weight loss. Therefore, the claim that diet soft drinks cause weight gain is nothing but a false alarm.”  - Alan Aragon, from his brilliant  monthly Research Review.

Tea and coffee contain no calories so they are fine. A splash of milk in your coffee(s) in the mornings is fine too, but don’t put sugar in there. Try and keep the total calories under 50kCal.

26. Cheat-Days: How do you feel about them?

Let’s be clear, “cheat-day” is an abused term and has become something completely different from the original meaning: A very high-carb, low-fat day, usually used after several days or a week of dieting with very low carbs. This is also known as a “refeed” and is used to replenish glycogen. (You can read more about this in the this post.) Technically we have a refeed/cheat day every training day with the LG.

Unfortunately the mainstream meaning of cheat day is rapidly becoming a “food free-for-all” where people stuff their faces for the entire day. Most people are well-meaning when they use the term, but it leads those that don’t realise the true meaning into trouble.

So what do I think about the “food free-for-all” version that is cheat days? Cheat days in the sense that many use it may as well be called a “diet fuck up” day. Make sure you say those words to yourself before you decide to do one. Psychologically they are beneficial, if not essential, for the average joe’s sanity after a long period of dieting (can be incorporated as normal sized “free meals”, or had as part of a regular and planned diet break), however physiologically there is no need with the LG set-up.

27. Hunger problems: I feel hungry during the fast, why?

Presuming that you are eating at the same times and keeping the feeding window the same and thus the hunger hormones have regulated, the most common culprit for hunger is bad food choices, particularly for the last meal before the fast.

Tips in order they should be tried and implemented:

  • Always eat real food for the last meal.
  • Put your fish oil supplementation with this last meal. (Fats slow absorption.)
  • Eat a slow-digesting protein like eggs or cottage cheese, or eat meat with plenty fibrous green vegetables.
  • Switch from refined carbohydrates to foods like potatoes or whole grain bread for your carb sources.

28. Irregular work hours. How do I set things up?

“What do I do if my work schedule doesn’t allow for a consistent feeding window?”
We do the best we can. First it’s important to understand a few fundamental points:

1. The reason that we try to keep the meal timing consistent is that the body regulates to our usual feeding times and tells us to eat (by dumping the hunger hormone, ghrelin, into our system) at these times. This means that we can skip breakfast everyday and experience no hunger in the morning. This doesn’t just have to be breakfast. Practically this is useful because it means we can eat just 2 (or 3) meals in a shorter space of time and thus feel satisfied despite dieting.

2. When we eat at different times the body doesn’t get the chance to regulate to this, meaning that we’ll get hungry at more random times. – The penalty is hunger, nothing more. This is an important point when considering your set-up.

3. There is nothing magic about having a 16 hour fasting window. I see people eat dinner an hour later than then had scheduled, panic, and this shift their lunch the next day an hour later so as not to “break the 16 hour rule”. -Bullshit. Totally backwards. In fact by doing this you upset the ghrelin rhythm if anything. – In that situation you’re best to not adjust anything the next day.

4. Training can be at any time as long as you can have one meal after, before starting the fast.

5. The feeding window can be longer some days and shorter on others, but they must always overlap.

So when we put this together for the person that has a varied schedule, what have we got?

  • If possible, then keep at least one meal at the same time every day and let the other be flexible.
  • If thats’s not possible then just keep the meals in the same rough time of day. i.e. The Lunch/Dinner timeframe. – Definitely don’t have your feeding window early morning to lunch one day and then lunch to evening the next.
  • If you train at different times then adjust your meal sizes so that you can have at least 60% of your calories for the day in the post-workout/pre-bed window. Examples are included in Martin’s Leangains guide.

28. I got injured/ My [body-part] hurts. What should I do? What exercises do you recommend?

For the injury you need to seek your doctor’s advice.

Make sure it is a specialist sports doctor/physiotherapist that knows what they are doing. You need to ask about a plan of recovery and rehabilitation if necessary, in the context of your overall training plan. You need to get specifics on what you can and can’t do. I’m not a rehab specialist, nor doctor, and I can’t give advice online effectively even if I was.

It’s all too easy to just train around the pain and think it will be ok while not addressing the underlying issue. Two things that need to be considered other that the above moving forward:

  1. Was it a form issue that caused the injury? or,
  2. Was it a previous injury that just came up to bite you in the ass this time.

For the former, when you are healthy again get someone to have a look at your form and see if they can see any issue. If no-one is available then video yourself and compare with the form used in the instructional videos I have linked to on the homepage (right sidebar, at the bottom).

The body is a complicated machine. If there is one thing I have learned over the years through injuring myself doing silly things it’s that the pain you feel is only an issue with that area half of the time. Recent examples of my own to highlight this:

Knee pain – tight foot arches. – Stretch
Elbow pain – grip being over-trained. – Cut down on grip work.
Shoulder pain – scapula movement problem. – Retrain to move correctly. Very complicated.
Lower-right back pain – long-term anterior pelvic tilt & left ribs tilting upward. – Retrain breathing & posture, paying special attention when training. Training program revamped by Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore. Very complicated.

The take home point it this folks – don’t guess, see a pro.

Training Questions List:

  1. Training: Do I have to?
  2. Frequency: I’m doing well with 3 days at the gym, surely 6 will double my results?
  3. Skipped Sessions: I will only train 1 day this week, does this mean I should eat only 1 ‘Training Macros’ diet day plan?
  4. Cardio: Will it speed things up? When should I do it?
  5. Muscle Loss/GainI’m on a cut, and my strength gains have stopped progressing/ my strength is decreasing in the big 3 lifts, does this mean I have lost muscle?
  6. Timing change: I have to change the time of my training to the morning/evening. How should I split the meals/calories split for the day?
  7. Abdominal work: Why do you not recommend abdominal work?
  8. The Devil: My gym has a Smith Machine. Can I use that?
  9. Warming-Up: What style should I do with RPT?
  10. Consecutive Days Training: Is it ok to train two/three days in a row?
  11. Ladies training: What should I do?
  12. Bad Training Session: Strength Drop! What should I do?
  13. Soreness: I don’t feel sore the next day, should I do more sets and exercises?
  14. Endurance Training: I was thinking about training for a marathon in September, how would this affect my cut?
  15. Bench Press strength drop: Why? What should I do?
  16. Calf Training: Should I?
  17. RPT: How do I adjust the top-set weight?
  18. Back-off Sets: How do I adjust them? Always 15% off the top-set?
  19. Strength LossesWhat can be the cause of this? Is it normal?
  20. Secondary Exercises: At what stage do they become detrimental?

Training Questions:

1. Training: Do I have to?

Dieting without training is very likely to set you up for a rebound. You’re also likely to only become a skinny-fat version of your current self as you will lose muscle mass as well as the fat.  This diet is designed to be used in combination with training to prevent that.
– I’ve written why in a detailed guide to minimalistic effective training, which can be found here.

2. Frequency: I’m doing well with 3 days at the gym, surely 6 will double my results?

– No. If you are ready to go again the next day, you didn’t train hard enough and you may as well have stayed at home. Hit it hard, eat, sleep, repeat. This is the success formula.

3. Skipped Sessions: I will only train 1 day this week, does this mean I should eat only 1 ‘Training Macros’ diet day plan?

– If it’s just the one skipped session then you can just eat your rest day macros. If you’re missing 2 or 3, then it’s probably worth eating your “average macros” (meaning the average of the two days’ numbers) as otherwise the weekly deficit may work out to be a little too high*. (*It was for this reason that I previously advised that people continue cycling their macros as normal despite skipping a session.)

4. Cardio: Should I do it?

In the context of fat loss in the vast majority of cases the answer is no. If you throw in a lot of cardio at the start, how will you be able to measure the results of the diet itself? You won’t know how effective the diet is.

I want you to look great forever, not just in 12 weeks. In the future you’re not going to have time to do cardio every day so learn to set up your training minimally now, so that you know how little you can get away with when the busy times do come.

5. Muscle Loss/Gain: I’m on a cut, and my strength gains have stopped progressing/ my strength is decreasing in the big 3 lifts, does this mean I have lost muscle?

Not necessarily. A quick recap:

For those with training experience, strength increases or decreases indicate gain in or loss of muscle mass respectively. When cutting, preserving muscle mass is the main goal, any gain in strength should be taken as a nice bonus, rather then taken for granted.

So given the above it would seem fair to say that a decrease from say, 100kg x 8reps in the bench press, to 100kg x 4reps in the bench press indicates a loss of muscle mass, correct? – Wrong. It is very important to take into account the decreased mechanical advantage getting leaner gives us in the big 3 lifts.

It is easiest to visualize with the bench press. As we get leaner our chest/back circumference decreases (loss of fat) meaning the distance the bar has to travel to do one complete rep increases & thus the ‘work done’ to perform the a rep increases. Thus it requires more strength to do the same number of reps when you are leaner.

If you can do the same number of reps after your cut as you could at the start of your cut, you are almost certainly stronger.

6. Timing Change: I have to change the time of my training to the morning/evening. How should I split the meals/calories split for the day?

Martin Berkhan has written a good guide on this here.

7. Abdominal Work: Why do you not recommend abdominal work?

Squatting is abdominal work. Here’s an excellent article on abs by Mark Rippetoe.

8. The Devil: My gym has a Smith Machine. Can I use that?

Taken from the excellent StartingStrength.com website:

“No, no, no, no, no. NO!

Smith Machines are the devil.

For one thing they completely remove the stabilization aspect of the squat. But go ahead, get up to 300 on a smith machine and then try it with a barbell and see how long you can keep from falling on your ass.

For another thing it restricts the natural range of motion. See each of us has our own biomechanics (the mechanisms that distinctly tie our individual bones and muscles together) and hence we have an individual movement pattern (range of motion) when doing the squat, or anything else for that matter. For example a guy with a long torso and stocky legs will not squat remotely close to how guy with a short torso and long legs does. The smith machine has only one range of motion for either of these individuals because the bar runs on rails in a fixed path (straight up and down or a slight diagonal). Every individual must conform to no matter their distinct movement pattern. This can be devastating to your skeletal system over time.”

“Squatting” in a Smith machine is an oxymoron. A squat cannot be performed on a Smith machine, as should be obvious from all previous discussion. Sorry. There is a gigantic difference between a machine that makes the bar path vertical, and a squat that is executed correctly enough to have a vertical bar path. Muscle and skeleton should do the job of keeping the bar path vertical, not grease fittings and floor bolts.– Mark Rippetoe


If you are waiting to be convinced of the benefits of a full depth squat please read this article by Rippetoe. [Strong Language]

9: Warming-Up: What style should I do with RPT?

The main thing is that it should get you warm and the mind-muscle connection going, without tiring you and impacting the top-set. If these requirements are met then it’s fine. I’ve written how I personally prefer to warm-up here.

10. Consecutive Days Training: Is it ok to train two/three days in a row?

In the context of dieting (calorie deficit) and for those using the big compound movements (barbell training) three days a week it is a good idea to have a day of rest between sessions at least. This is very important for recovery, so as to not over-burden the already taxed central nervous system. In terms of the effectiveness of this combined with the Leangains diet set-up, rest-day(s) in-between training will make the diet work more effectively.

For those that must put two training days back to back, if you are using a split routine then keep your Squat and Deadlift sessions as far apart as possible. I.e.: Put your Bench-press day next to one of your other workout days.

Example: Monday, Deadlift day. Thursday, Bench-press day. Friday, Squat day.

11. Ladies training: What should I do?

The simple answer is exactly the same as men, despite all the shit you’ve read in magazines. I’ll leave you with a couple of good articles and a quote my Mark Rippetoe:

Women get the best results when they train for performance. Even though there are differences between men’s and women’s response to training, there is no difference in the quality of the exercise needed to produce the stress that causes adaptation.

Ignore the silly bullshit. Women’s collegiate and professional athletics and its participants have for many years held the answers to the questions most women ask about exercise, answers that have gone fastidiously ignored by the figure salon industry. The fact is that aesthetics are best obtained from training for performance. In both architecture and human beauty, form follows function. Always and everywhere, the human body has a certain appearance when it performs at a high level. But the fitness industry continues to sell aesthetics first, as though it is independent of performance.

Muscles cannot get “longer” without some rather radical orthopedic surgery. Muscles don’t get leaner—you do. There is no such thing as “firming and toning.” There is only stronger and weaker.

The vast majority of women cannot get large, masculine muscles from barbell training. There is such a profound difference in male and female testosterone levels that the strength differences between men and women are almost entirely accounted for by hormone level.

As Cross-Fit (barbell training) grows and it becomes harder to ignore the results of honest work done at high intensities, the media are taking notice. You pretty much get out of an effort what you put into it. Effective exercise is more like training for athletics and less like lying around on the floor.”

12. Bad Training Session: Strength Drop! What should I do?

Probably nothing. Dan John, one of the most experienced and knowledgable strength training coaches in the world, says that you should expect 20% of your workouts to be “duds”. Off days. Days where your strength just “isn’t right”. Start a training program with this in mind and don’t let it rattle you when it happens because it’s normal. Go home, eat, rest and sleep well, and come back the next time with a determined attitude.

13. Soreness: I don’t feel sore the next day, should I do more sets and exercises?

I’ve written about this in a comment here.

14. Endurance Training: I was thinking about training for a marathon in September, how would this affect my cut (i.e. I’d have to do running training 5 days a week)?

I am not against anyone wanting to enter a marathon or challenging themselves in an endurance event. I would love to do one myself one day. Training like this however will severely hinder your strength (and thus muscle) gains. Whether you decide to do this then will depend on your main goal.

  • Strength/ muscle gain? – You don’t want to be doing it for reasons explained very well here.
  • Get a good marathon time? – Do it.
  • Fat loss? Pros and cons. All the running will burn extra calories for sure, even if it isn’t a very efficient way of doing so. However if you’re overweight and weak then it won’t be doing you any long-term favors.

15. Bench Press strength drop: Why? What should I do?

This is a very common. Don’t panic. Firstly, have you lost body fat? As fat is lost the relative distance the bar has to travel gets greater. Recall your high school physics class, Work = force x distance 

If you are leaner, the same resistance for the same number of reps will be a greater amount of total work done. Thus a small decrease in the weight on the bar is not necessarily indicative of a drop in strength, rather, if strength were to stay the same, all things being equal, your bench would drop on a cut.

16. Calf Training: Should I?

That’s really up to you. See this comment here for my thoughts.

17. RPT: How do I adjust the top-set weight?

I’ve written about this here.

18. Back-off Sets: How do I adjust them? Always 15% off the top-set?

I’ve written about this here.

19. Strength Losses: What can be the cause of this? Is it normal?

Aside from the comment on the bench in Q15, I’ve written more about this in a comment here.

20. Secondary Exercises: At what stage do they become detrimental?

The point where they steal essential recovery capacity from the main lifts to the extent that training does not progress as it should. When dieting: For experienced lifters this will be a regression of your top lifts; for new trainees a lack of progression in strength.

Got more questions? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

I hope you found this useful. I’ll continue working to improve it.

Did you read my step-by-step guide to setting your diet and training up by yourself?


1,021 Comments on “FAQ: Leangains Diet and Training”

  1. Lucas Moreira Parry

    Hey there, Andy! I would like to open this post with a big thanks and high regards from Brazil! Your blog is full of information and guides, both having helped me positively with the decision to start IF.

    Like I said, I’m considering the idea of starting IF/Lean Gains. That thing is, I’ve stumbled across some problems along my readings about it (and i’ve read a LOT!).

    1) First off, my trainning frequency and time: I usually work out 4 or 5 times a week, usually at noon (around 8pm). I should really cut down my gym days to 3? What routines should I use? About meal frequency, that part I already got covered, meaning I will do the 20% 20% 60% meal percentage Martin gave as an example.

    2) The second problem is: I’m a BJJ fighter, and I train 4 to 5 times a week, sometimes prior sometimes post my gym trainning. Unlike my weight tranning, I’m not willing to let this frequency lessen so how should I modify my nutrition and meal times knowing that?

    I would really appreciate any further help you could give me! Again, props for the blog, FAQ and all the guides you have going in here, they really were enlightening.

    Lucas.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Lucas.
      1. Yes, if you are cutting. Click for the training guide main page. If you train in the evening then you can go with that three meal set up yes, sure.
      2. You’ll want to add in extra carbs on those days.
      Training day = lifting day. Rest day = non-lifting day. BJJ doesn’t count as a training day as far as the general initial set-up goes.

  2. Ed

    Hi Andy, Thank you so much for your website and sharing such wonderful information. I’m not sure if this is the most appropriate space to write this but I wanted to get your advice/thoughts and thought perhaps others would benefit from my post as well.

    Background:
    – Asian, male, 30 yrs old, 5’9″, have been fairly active and naturally strong with extra fat all my life
    – Started CrossFit September 2012, train 2-3 times per week, starting weight 180 lbs, 23% body fat
    – Still do CrossFit, September 2013, train 2-3 times per week, current weight 170 lbs, 15% body fat

    In the beginning of my CrossFit training, I didn’t care about diet and just focused on making it to the gym. But in April 2013 (20% body fat), I decided to try Paleo diet which made a noticeable change in my appearance. I think my body fat must have dropped although I did not measure during this time. I think I became stronger quicker as well. But I hit a plateau. I stuck to it 80-90% until I came across your website last month and decided to give it a try.

    I decided to go for the cut and did the math:
    BMR = 1782
    Training Day = 3210 kCal, 192P 45F 509C
    Rest Day = 2043 kCal, 192P 65F 173C
    Feeding window 12 PM – 8 PM

    I did not change my workout routine, CrossFit 2-3 times per week. I bought a scale and weighed everything. I think I diligently stuck to the program 90% of the time, except for 2 weekends of binge drinking and munching out.

    I started in August 1st and measured myself in September 1st – 170 lbs, 15% body fat.

    I know your program worked because I definitely look a lot leaner. I think I’m seeing better results than when I was on the paleo diet.

    But my concern is, I’m really struggling to lose the body fat around my chest and my lower stomach. I look very lean all around but i just cant get those last pounds off my chest and stomach. I’ve had fat around those areas all my life and it’s stubborn as hell.

    Also, I’m not sure if I’m missing something or doing something wrong… I was expecting perhaps more significant results seeing your before and after pictures of doing this for 7 weeks.

    I’m wondering if I need to change anything to reach my goal, which is 10% body fat and NO FAT AROUND MY CHEST AND LOWER STOMACH! Am I just progressing a little slower than what I had hoped for?

    Thanks for reading and I look forward to your response!

    Ed

  3. Charles Estep

    Hi Maybe I missed this somewhere in the FAQs. I work a pretty active and physical job would this affect any muscle or mass loss During the fasting periods due to “Overtraining”?..If not how would It affect my results if at all?

  4. Jose Fuentes

    Hi Andy,

    Small question about fat consumption. I try to get to my daily allowance of fat on rest days and training days by eating seeds (sunflower) and nuts (walnuts), i wonder if this is ok since they also have carbs in them? Is it better to get other fat source instead of nuts and seeds?

    Regards,

    Jose

    1. Andy Morgan

      Variety is key to a balanced and thus (arguably) healthy diet. So while those sources sound good, I wouldn’t do that every day for your fat.
      Regarding the carbs, IIFYM bud.

  5. Alex

    Hello Andy

    Not trying to play Mr.Smart or anything right now, just being curious as i didn’t seem to find a response for my question on the related forums i’ve looked on

    I wanted to ask why we don’t only shuffle calories (deficit on off-days / surplus on training days) and we also shuffle carbs and fats – the explanation behind this
    For example, without picking numbers so you understand my POV

    Instead of dropping carbs on off-days and raising fat more, we could keep the fat number constant (60-65) and only manipulate carbs.

    I’m curious to know about the “mechanism” behind this….and of course if it’s correlated with IF in any way (eg : coming from IF, there’s already a fat loss going on and we just prolong the fat loss while eating high protein, higher fats…)

    Thanks a lot

    1. Andy Morgan

      Because of the higher likelihood of fat storage on the training day if we eat over maintenance. More on this here bud.

  6. Jens Asbjørn Bøgen

    Hey Andy, thanks for a great FAQ and a great site overall!!

    I have a question though:

    I may sound like a newbie, but I’ve been told that to get the biggest mass and strength gains, you have to hit each muscle twice a week? Is that just total rubbish?

    Furthermore: I realize that you can’t “target train” a specific part of a muscle (like the upper/inner pecs), but from my own experience, it is possible to focus on the weak spots, not isolating them entirely. If you want to throw in a “toning-excercise” like incline cable flyes, when to do them?

    Again, thank you for a great site, looking forward to hear your answers!

    1. Andy Morgan

      Jens, thank you for the questions.
      It’s not “total rubbish” but you have to be aware that there is far more than just a single way of doing things. What I present here is just one way. Pick a method and then don’t mess with it, that’s one of the biggest pitfalls people make. Your question about targeting weak points is irrelevant for beginner trainees because everywhere needs work, so it’s better to focus on the main compound movements.

  7. Jon Danielson

    Andy,

    You mentioned that you eat a box of cereal after your wirkout but stopped the ‘Choco-Flakes’ and switched to ‘Bran-Flakes’ after you realized they were 95% sugar and can potentially lead to spill-over into fat stores more easily.

    How does that happen? I thought a carb was a carb. Do you have any resources that you found that on?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Jon, good question. Carbs can be broken down into glucose, fructose and a mix of the two, sucrose (sugar). Fructose is handled a little differently in the body, being metabolised mainly in the liver. Too much and it has greater potential for fat storage. As a general guideline sticking to 100-150g of fructose max should avoid these issues. Just did a quick google search for you and though I haven’t read through all, this article on fructolysis should get you started if you want the science.

  8. Alex

    Hello Andy
    Read something interesting lately (having to do with the 16/8 IF protocol) and decided to ask your opinion about it and if any integration with Leangains would be possible, namely : Carb Back Loading

    Just curious, seemed smart to eat only protein Fats pre workout and Carbs only after a workout. Yet what about rest days…. Bummer

  9. Daryl

    Hi Andy,

    Just want to ask something. Do you think it’s a good idea/possibility of linking up clients of yours who are in the same country for future support and possibly able to help one another? But of course, by seeking the approval of both parties before giving contacts – names etc… As I find it’s easier to relate and support each other from the same country (especially for diet) when their consultations are over.(Again, for future purposes.)

    What do you think?

    Thanks! :)

    1. Andy Morgan

      Daryl, thanks for the suggestion. It could be helpful but has the potential to do more harm than good. Couple of reasons really:
      1. My advice for one person is not going to be the same as for another. This could lead to well meaning people leading someone astray.
      2. Adds to the procrastination/ information overabundance problem when all people need to do is get on with the plan given.

  10. Alex

    Hey Andy, thanks a lot for allowing one more question here.
    Almost 3 months on this eating system, feels great, meals are diverse, yet I find it really hard, sometimes impossible to hit the desired protein queue without using whey protein or other forms of protein powders (egg white or milk/casein)
    Currently at 65kg LBM, so need to get at least 195grams / daily.
    If I cut down to 2grams / lbm, and therefore up my Carbs to make up for the edit, will this assume fat gain?
    Any recommendation / idea on how to proceed and keep it right?
    I’m not asking for macro information, only whether the above protein related problem really fits (or not..)

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Alex.
      Nothing wrong with powders but you’re eating more protein than I’d recommend. Have a look at the macros guide.
      “If I cut down to 2grams / lbm, and therefore up my Carbs to make up for the edit, will this assume fat gain?”
      Short answer – no.

      1. Alex

        Hi Andy

        I’m still not sure about Fat Consumption or the amount of Carbs allowed for the REST day….please help.
        For a recomp setup
        If i choose 2g/ LBM Protein , i would get around 100g Fats and 185g Carbs for the Rest Day – weren’t i supposed to be as close to ketosis on the rest day or am i confused about this ?
        I just want to set the fact straight about the fats / carbs ratio on a rest day (aka on the deficit / recovery day)

        Thanks a lot

        1. Andy Morgan

          The macros guide is here Alex. If that’s what you have come out with then assume it to be correct, track, then adjust accordingly, or recalculate and check you got it right. You’ve confused the term Ketosis. That has nothing to do with this diet.

  11. kierfinnegan

    Hi Andy. Just a quick question about consecutive training days. Been through the ridiculous amount of comments and not found an answer.

    At the moment I currently have to train on Mon, Tue and Thurs. I know it’s not ideal but I have to. Is it ok to still stick to the usual rules? Three days with low carbs seems like Monday’s training is gonna be killer. Also, is three high carb days out of four too much? What do you think?

    Cheers.
    Kier

      1. kierfinnegan

        Great thanks. So 3 days low carb is fine. What about the calorie cycling? 3 days low calorie (below maintenance) ok too? I asked you a question about metabolism recently. Had a bit of a diet break which seems to have sorted me out but don’t want it to happen again!

        Currently trying recomp.
        Thanks!

  12. Jose Fuentes Rodriguez

    Hi Andy, i had a small question. I wanted to train late due to extra work i need to do in the office. My feeding window is 12pm and 19:30pm and i wanted to train at 21:00pm. What would you advise to do? Eat before training or after training?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Jose, thanks for the question.
      As this is a one off situation just train and then eat later. Keep your first meal the same time, don’t adjust your meals for the next day.
      You’ll probably feel perfectly fine training with just that one lunch meal, however if you wish, a couple of hours before you could have a snack – a piece of fruit and a protein shake perhaps. Just take those macros out of your PWO meal.

      Ideally you’d split your macros for the day in a rough 40/60 pre/post split.

  13. Alex

    Hello there Andy

    One more question, please – if i may.
    Here’s the “debriefing”
    Besides 3 days / week barbell training at the gym, i also attend martial arts practice twice or 3 times / week. That’s either on the same day as the training days and on one of the rest days or whatever. Mixed. Shouldn’t mattere. Yet – what if it matters ?
    When i’ve adjusted my TDEE – i choose 5 times / week training as a quota for an estimated total. Therefore should i go with that number or should i add extra carbs on the days i also train in martial arts because of the energy expenditure? I googled “martial arts and calories” and got like ~800 calories in 60-70 minutes burned – for my weight. That would mean an extra 200 carbs to be added, if the TDEE is not already high enough?
    I’m really confused, i just don’t want to hamper my recovery due to the martial arts practice, yet i don’t want to give that up either….
    Currently on body recomposition, not cutting.
    Hopefully i was concise & clear on my little description here :)

    Thanks very much

  14. Alex

    Hello Andy

    Been on the LG for over 8 weeks i’d say, not really impressed with the visual improvement of the body composition, yet…patience is a virtue
    Went to a military-type training camp, where, of course – couldn’t keep up with the diet, therefore decided that once i’ve got back to start a diet break, just in case (felt like i’ve needed one anyway)
    Few questions, please
    1)During the diet break, should i keep training 3 days / week as usually?
    2)How long should the diet break take? Also – should the fasting aspect be also removed during the diet break?
    3)After the diet break – i’ll want to return to recomposition macros-setup – should i just start right off where i’ve started (diet & training wise?)

    1. Andy Morgan

      1) Not unless you feel you need a physical break from it.
      2) Have one for two weeks.
      3) Probably, it really depends though. You’ve already said that you haven’t seen the changes you were hoping for, so the issue may be that the macros need changing, the training needs changing… could be a lot of things.
      Just keep reading through the guides here bud.

  15. Aaron

    Hi Andy,

    So I just got back from the Doctor. The last few days I’ve had lower back pain and she diagnosed it as sciatica. She recommended that i lay off lifting anything heavy for the next 2-4 weeks. I don’t want to lose the incredible progress that I’ve made with you, but I’m also not willing to injure myself any further. She did say I can do low impact cardio, so I’m thinking of doing HIIT on a stationary bike three times a week and also some light walking. How should I continue with my feeding plan?

    Regards,
    Aaron

    1. Aaron Schmidt

      So, I saw a specialist this morning and he said to go ahead and keep training. He does, though, recommend not doing any vertical or bent over exercises until the pain completely subsides. Going to substitute squats, deadlifts, overhead press and bent over rows. For squats, I’m thinking of doing dumbbell rear lunges and leg presses. For rows, I’ll do face pulls and seated rows. For the press, seated flys. There are no real good substitutes for deadlifts, are there? I’m saddened that I can’t do deadlifts, as they are my favorite.

      Aaron

      1. Andy Morgan

        The deadlift works the entire posterior chain. So when you can’t deadlift you’ll need to work in exercises that fit in with your doc’s advice but allow you to work all of it.
        Further to what you have written RDLs, GHRs, chins come to mind, but, only if they fit in with your doc’s advice. There isn’t one single answer to how to set up a substitute exercise routine here. Many possibilities.

  16. Pingback: Why You Need To Make Adjustments as You Diet | RippedBody.jp

  17. JohnO13

    Andy,

    Continuing my slow bulk for the last couple weeks and things have progressed nicely. Slowly making strength gains and the scale is going up slightly. Although strength and weight are going up, definition seems to be the same, which is always a plus. I just had a couple questions in measuring the progress of my bulk.

    1. How much weight should I be gaining over the course of a week? a month? or should i forget about what the scale reads and just stick to my measurements and #’s on the bar?

    2. Although i am up 2 pounds, my 2 inches below stomach measurement is down 2cm compared to 2 weeks ago. Should I continue to see smaller measurements there?

    Best,
    JohnO

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi John,

      The way I see it there are two ways you can ‘slow’-bulk:
      1. Chase bodyweight gain in a controlled way.
      2. Chase strength gains in a controlled way.

      The former is a quicker way to get bigger but fat will be gained. This method is much more rewarding as the changes are more visible. The problem is that you may freak out with losing your definition.

      The latter is about chasing strength gains – barbells – and manipulating the macros so that you get the most strength gains you can out of the macros before making an increase. This is slower, and less visually rewarding. It requires more patience and faith in the lifting numbers changing your body. However you will stay leaner this way.

      1. Chris

        Andy, what is your view on chasing strength gains outside of the 5-8 rep range. (ex. doing heavy singles, doubles and triples) While mostly neural, they will allow you to lift heavier over time in the 5-8 rep range, or does the neural aspect of the strength gained produce less tension in the 5-8 rep range?

      2. JohnO13

        Thanks Andy, although the first option is tempting, I’m doing my best to chase strength gains. Thanks for the always prompt reply

  18. Fredrik

    Hey Andy, and thanks for making information on I.F., and training more easier and accessible online.

    I’ve a question for you, that I hope you can help me with. I’ve been doing RPT since january 2013 with good results and loosing weight gradually at the same time, but not to the level of visible abs. I’m interested in starting on a cutt, because I want to reach a bf% level under 10% – to reach this level. However when I’ve tried cutting I find it hard to lay -30 on rest days, and +10 on training days. Mostly because I’m to hungry on rest days. Therefore I’m wondering if it is possible to be in a deficit on both days? I’ll still follow the same principles as usual, except what I’m asking about. For example: my BMR + activity is 2100 kcal a day, so I’ll on rest days have about 1400 kcal and on training days about 1800 kcal.

    Kind regards, Fredrik.

  19. Alex

    Hello Andy

    About Fibre – it is a carbohydrate – do we count it to our macro intake or not?
    I tried finding an answer regarding this on google (and i did) yet nothing about whether it’s counted to our macro intake or it’s actually subtracted from the “given” carbohydrate for the specific food choice

    What’s your take on this one?
    Thanks a lot

  20. Anthony

    Hey Andy, how are you? Its been a couple months since I finished with you and everything is going pretty good. I am down about another 4-5lbs and still getting stronger but this week I think I had a setback…While deadlifting and doing weighted chins, Im pretty sure I suffered a hernia. I had hernias as a newborn child, so I think I might have just re-aggravated it. I have a appointment with a doctor next week, and I am pretty sure they are going to recommend surgery, which will mean not being able to train for a while. I am concerned that all of my hard work the last 5-6 months is going fade so I am wondering what you think the best strategy is going forward as far as dieting and maintaining the muscle I have. And in the future, I am not sure if the doctor is going to advise me to stay away from heavy lifting, which I would be really upset about because I love training heavy now, especially squats and deads. Please let me know what you think and any advice you may have going forward. I hope all is well with you, and thank you again for everything, I have never been so pleased with my results and training as over the last 6 months.

    Anthony

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Anthony, sorry to hear that. Your hard work is certainly not gone, muscle isn’t lose quickly when not training, just try and eat at your maintenance, as gauged by your hunger, or roughly the average of your t/r-day macros.

        Regarding Any Injury:

      For the injury you need to seek your doctors advice. Make sure it is a specialist sports doctor/physiotherapist that knows what they are doing. You need to ask about a plan of recovery and rehabilitation if necessary, in the context of your overall training plan. You need to get specifics on what you can and can’t do. The body is a complicated machine, I’m not a rehab specialist, nor doctor, and I can’t give advice online effectively even if I was.

      Two things that need to be considered other that the above moving forward:
      1. Was it a form issue that caused the injury? or,
      2. Was it a previous injury that just came up to bite you in the ass this time.

      For the former, when you are healthy again get someone to have a look at your form and see if they can see any issue. If no-one is available then video yourself and compare with the form used in the instructional videos I have linked to on the homepage (right sidebar, at the bottom).

      1. Anthony

        Thanks for the advice Andy. I went and saw a doctor, and he said I have a partial tear, and he recommended surgery because I am so active and to repair it now before it gets worse and eventually tears completely. He said this was related to my previous hernias as a child and that probably the heavy lifting just exposed the weak area or old scar tissue from my previous surgeries. He said even completing the exercises with perfect form could have done it and he advised me to stay away from heavy lifting (squats and deadlifts especially because those two exercises put a lot of pressure on the lower abdominals) until I get the surgery. When I eventually start to train again , he said I could return to training but recommended to avoid those two exercises and to avoid using a weighted belt for chins and dips because of the amount of force that is hanging between your waist also could have added to the hernia . So I am pretty bummed about it because like I said, I love the heavy squats and deadlifts and I am going to maybe buy a weighted vest for the chins and dips instead of the weighted belt. So when I do start to train again, I not really sure how to proceed, any advice?

        Anthony

  21. Neil

    Hi Andy, thank god i stumbled across your website, there is so much information on here, ive sent a request to work with you, i cant wait.

    Keep up the awesome work

    Neil

  22. Alex

    Hello Andy

    Have to ask this, i can’t seem to find a similar situation
    I’m on a recomp phase-tryout at the moment.
    In case of a minor injury (left knee), i’ve avoided squatting (doing StrongLifts 5×5 program at the moment) – should the macros be adjusted downwards when squats aren’t performed ? Will keeping the same amount of macros make me gain fat because the workout is less intense?

    Hope you got my point
    Thanks very much and hope to get back on track ASAP, i hate gaining fat :(

    1. Andy Morgan

      You need to see a doctor and find out what you need to do for rehab as part of a strength routine. Macro considerations are secondary at this point.

      1. Alex

        Well yeah, I’m past rehab already, 95% passed that. I was just curious how much the Squat (and thus, it missing from my workouts) counts to the fat-gain / macro adjustments – if necessary
        I’ll resume squatting this weekend anyway…

          1. Alexandru

            Yep, figured that too :)
            Will most likely keep it consistent and track progress / measurements weekly as planned….
            Cheers

  23. JohnO13

    Andy,

    I am starting a slow bulk. Is it ok to split up my 2nd half of carbs after the post-workout meal so I am not eating a large amount before bed? or does it not really matter as long as i hit the macros?

    Ex:
    PWO meal = 110g carbs
    1/2 before 2nd meal at X:XX time = 55g carbs
    last meal before the fast = 55g carbs

    Best,
    John O.

  24. Denny Walker

    i have one other question if yu wouldnt mind – if fat/weight loss comes to a stall what is the first ;plan of action, do you a) lower carbs and increase fat and keep same calories or b) lower carbs which in turn lowers calories – just as a general rule of thumb which step makes more sense?

  25. Vincenzo

    Hi, so far I have followed the paleo diet. Intermittent fasting fascinates me and I started to practice it a few days. To take the amount of carbohydrates you need to eat rice / pasta / potatoes.
    Do not you run the risk of raising too sugar levels in the blood and consequently the storage of fat in these?

  26. Patrick

    Hey Andy, How long should the RPT workout take to complete. On squat day for example if you do 5 warm up sets and three work sets with total rest time at 8 minutes the work out takes less than 20-30 minutes. Should I add some additional leg work like walking lunges, leg press, or calf raises?

    1. Yossif

      Soy protein is what most people use, but keep in mind it is an estrogenic compound and isn’t very good for building muscle. If you’re going vegetarian for health reasons, don’t. It’s very counterproductive. Animal protein are far more effective than plant ones.

  27. Leo

    Hi Andy,
    I do two 1,5 hour krav maga sessions per week. It includes (among other things) boxing, wrestling, plyometric strenght exercises, push-ups, sit-ups, squats etc. In addition to that, I also do two 1-1,5 hour lifting sessions per week (squats, dead lifts, chin-ups, bench presses). SInce I am a little confused about the nature of these krav maga sessions, my question is: How do I treat krav maga sessions nutrition wise (in cutting phase using leangains approach)? Do I treat them as strenght training and therefore keep carbs high on these days, or do I treat them as rest and keep carbs low?
    Many thanks for your time and effort!
    Leo from Croatia

      1. Leo

        Thanks Andy! That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing so far. Good to know I was on the right track. :)

  28. Adam T

    Andy! This is one of your very first clients writing. Before I get to my question, let me say how impressive this site has become. Great work!

    My question is about meal timing.

    On work-out days, training in the afternoon seems optimal b/c by training time I’ve had a meal with 50g carbs or so to get me through it (which I believe Martin recommends). But, if I train in the morning (as I prefer), I have no such advantage b/c I’ve just come off a rest-day where I’ve consumed very few carbs. Consequently, I don’t have the same energy for my lifts and my strength drops. (BCAAs or a Whey shake do not give me nearly the same amount of energy as 50g of carbs.)

    I’ve experimented with this a bit and noticed that if I eat big the day BEFORE a morning workout, I can much more easily maintain strength levels through a morning workout. However, I recognize that IF protocols recommend the bulk of carbs should be consumed post-work-out for multiple good reasons.

    So what to do when training in the morning? Eat bulk of rest-day carbs as the last meal to fuel the morning? Accept less energy?

    I’ve looked through the site and through the comments for your thoughts on meal timing but didn’t see my question answered. Martin’s protocol guide doesn’t seem to address my question directly either.

    Any thoughts on this?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Adam, good to hear from you. Some people get along better training later in the day, others earlier. Find your balance. Either:
      1. Keep training in the morning and accept less energy – because as long as you are consistent with your training it won’t matter in terms of tracking and implementing changes.
      2. Train in the afternoon and be consistent with that.
      – Choose whichever is easiest in terms of scheduling.
      Obviously if you have a competition, even among friends, then you’ll want to do it in the afternoon when you feel strongest.

      1. Adam T

        Thanks, Andy. Appreciate the feedback. Maybe this is one of the reasons Martin writes that afternoon workouts work better for IF than morning… (Unless I’m making this up, but I’m almost positive I read that on one of his pages)

        Funny — now that I’m more in tune with myself, it’s interesting to go back and re-read rippedbody.jp and leangains.com b/c it all makes much more sense!

        Again, glad to see you’re kicking ass. All the best.

        1. Andy Morgan

          Ha yes, that’s one of the common things I say to people when they start asking questions beyond what they need, experience it, see how I do things, then explanations will make more sense.

    2. Joe Petrakovich

      Hey Andy,

      On one or two of my three workout days, I’d like to workout with a friend who can only make it to the gym at 5pm.

      I normally am following the standard 12pm-ish fasted training with a 1pm first meal.

      Would it hurt for me to fast all the way to 5-6pm on this day/days? I enjoy fasting, even through any hunger pangs, so I can handle it, I’m just wondering if this will be detrimental or something, provided I still take my pre-workout BCAAs.

      I know Mr. Berkhan documents a 20-25% daily calorie pre-workout meal option, which I’m also fine doing, I just like fasting because I find that I stay very energized.

      What do you think?

      Joe

  29. irwinnardo

    Hey Andy,

    This is my first time stumbling on to your site and learning about these methods. Right now my training regimen is comprised of weight training, muay thai, and strength and conditioning. I would like to switch to a 3 day weight training as you mentioned but I need to take muay thai on the off days to improve skill and strength and conditioning to improve in that area also. I also almost exclusively work out late nights 8 or 9pm. Is it possible to use your methods with such a busy regimen and working out really late? Any advice or if you can point me in the right direction I’ll greatly appreciate it.

    1. Andy Morgan

      I would drop the conditioning for now and work on your strength base while you drop the fat. Being lighter, you’ll be quicker. Conditioning isn’t the answer while you have excess fat. – Unless you’re on a tight fight deadline, in which case that needs to be prioritised over longer term physique changes.
      Just don’t try and hit all things at once or you won’t get anywhere fast. – This is true regardless of the method you use.

  30. Matty H

    Hey Andy how’s it going bud ! Just had a quick question for you. But first a little update since finishing my recomp with you iv followed your advise and slowly been increasing my carb macro over the weeks which has led to some small increases in weight maybe 4lbs over the last 6 weeks or so and iv had to switch over to the 3 day split now as my lower back legs and chest just were not recovering fast enough to do them as the big 3. Since doing this though and following the big 3 routine iv had some bad doms in my chest I guess from the press ups? Is this normal ? Will it fade or is that part an parcel of rpt for chest and then hitting the press ups? Or do you think maybe my calories are still a little low ? Anyway hope your well mate and ill send some pics soon. Cheers

    1. Andy Morgan

      Focus on progressing your main barbell movements. If the pushups are causing soreness and you’re not either gaining strength in your bench or growing then eat more (fat gain sit. dependent), or drop them.

  31. Alexandru

    Hello Andy

    I’ve been using a pre-workout shake (from a good company, not those weird ones that jack you up so you can train without effort for hours / no weird ingredients here) and i’ve just noticed that it includes Maltodextrin – if i use it before a fasted training (early morning trainee here) – will it compromise the fast?
    I’ve mainly used it because it containts BCAA – among other stuff
    A serving has 84kcal – only!

    Thanks and keep in touch
    PS : Reply to email comes tomorrow, didn’t have time until now

  32. Jessica

    Hi Andy! What’s your take on speed work for squats and bench for someone who does more or less the big 3 workout 3x/week with a handful of accessory workouts to work on getting to a pull-up?

    1. Andy Morgan

      What is the relationship between speed of squats and being able to do a pull-up?
      If this is based on the advice of another coach then stop. Follow their advice if you have put your faith in them and do not question it when you don’t have the experience to do so.

  33. derek

    Hey andy,
    Have been working hard, on a cut (+10/-35) for 3 months now and have seen great results. Due to a remote worksite and no access to weights, Im using this as a 10 day Rest/Regeneration period. I just wanted your take in regards to macros and daily intake for this 10 day period of Rest. Im still going to continue the IF’ing with an 8 hour eating window. So, keeping that in mind, I will be keeping on the cut, and my goal is to still lose bf%, Is it recommended to continue cycling carbs/fats even though, everyday is a “Rest” day? Or keep a constant on the macros for the whole 10 day period? Would you want to create an everyday deficit, or would you want to just remain as close to baseline maintenance as possible? Im not sure i understand how to manage the carb intake during this time and would like some guidance.

    thanks

    1. Andy Morgan

      There is no need for carb-ups if you are not training. That does not necessarily mean you should avoid all carbs for a week either. How strict you wish to be depends, and how I would advise on that depends on current status as well as personality type. As general advice: Keep your protein and veggies high, eat to your hunger for the rest. – That is the most relaxed way to do it.

  34. Andrew Greenlees

    Hi Andy, I posted a few months ago about a yoga question and you were kind enough to reply to me then which was helpful. I mentioned that my girlfriend is from Osaka as well and she started doing fasting when she seen the results I was having and read the japanese page you gave me the link too. She has since lost 3kg’s and it’s going well for her, especially since she moved closer to the beach and can surf again most days so thanks for inspiring her and for making IF simple :) I do have a follow up question that I’m hoping you can help me with. I have gotten quite lean but have a slight problem with “stubborn fat” around my waist. It isn’t that much and I have been plodding away on my cut for about 4 months now. Though lately it has been frustrating me as I want to start a slow bulk but have it in my head that if I can’t lean out all the way this time then I won’t be able to when i start putting on a little size. I’m wondering if maybe I won’t be able to lean out all the way for now. My thought process for this is that I only weight 58kdaysg and I’m 5ft 6″, I only started doing weights at the beginning of the year and I’m thinking that maybe I don’t have enough muscle on my frame especially on my back to make leaning out and being very cut a possibility at this stage. I’m new to the weight world and would just like an eductaed opinion. I’m being constantly lectured too about the GI index of the carbs I’m eating and that I’m not getting enough fats from nutritional guys I know that at the gym. I know they are smart guys and one guy in particular has his own company and is a very smart cookie. This just ends up confusing me and I don’t know if I am really close to achieving my result or at the limit of where I can cut to at the minute? Here are two pictures from around 20 days ago, I’m pretty much still in the exact same shape apart from some slight loss on the sides.
    http://i45.tinypic.com/i4j12r.jpg
    http://i50.tinypic.com/25dw5.jpg
    Incidently I have been taking acetyl l-carntine everyday and pre-workout along with my BCAA aswell as fish oil and a multivitamin. Do you think I can still cut more or should I do a slow bulk now, add more muscle to my frame and then cut again and hope that I will have built enough muscle around my obliques and lower back to get rid of the stubborn fat? Or have I just lost the plot? >_<!! WOW Got a bit carried away there, sorry for the long winded post (again) ;(
    Many thanks, Andy G

    1. Andy Morgan

      Andrew, firstly, you’re not a diabetic, so to hell the glycemic index.
      Secondly, there are no “should’s” in fat loss. Cut to whatever point you wish, and want to. The leaner you are when you start, the longer a bulk can sustained. But if getting there drives you up the wall for whatever reason then you have your answer.

  35. JohnO13

    Andy,

    Just finished up a cut, currently on a diet break. Would it be productive to deload and start a new cycle once I finish my diet break and resume my cut?

    Also, All of my lifts have remained in a single rep range (Ex. 6-8). So for example all three of my bench sets I am working in that range, and if I hit the top rep of the range for any of my three sets, I adjust the weight for next time. However, your training examples in multiple articles show each set after the top set in a different rep range ie. 8-10 and 10-12 for the 2nd and 3rd sets. Would you recommend switching to the 3 different rep ranges for each set?

    Best,
    John

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