How to Gain Muscle While Staying Lean


Download my bodyweight training program for skinny-fat guys (63-page PDF)


This article was inspired by a blog post at Danger & Play: How I Train.


how to gain muscle while staying lean“Oskar, what training routine and diet do you follow?”

This has been a difficult question to answer, since I don’t follow a traditional diet and training routine.

I don’t count calories and I don’t weigh my food.

I don’t go into the gym with a piece of paper telling me what to do.

However, what I can do is show you:

  • The 2 most important training principles I follow.
  • A list of my favorite exercises for each muscle group.
  • How my training looked like last week.
  • What foods I eat +80% of the time.

And, finally, I’ll tie it all together and explain why training and eating go together, and how I’m able to gain muscle while staying lean all year.

You can use this article as inspiration for learning about how to gain muscle staying lean.

Let’s start with the 2 most important training principles that I follow.

I Don’t Count Sets and Reps. I Achieve Muscular Failure.

I go to the gym with 2 principles in mind:

  1. Achieve muscular failure.
  2. Lift with my muscles and not with my ego.

Since I don’t track my exercises, the most important principle is that I reach muscular failure on a regular basis.

Usually, that means at least once a week.

By doing that, I know that I will grow as long as I eat enough.

1. Achieve Muscular Failure

Some people think that muscular failure is achieved when you can’t do more reps with a given weight.

I disagree; just because you couldn’t do more reps with say 200 pounds, it doesn’t mean that your muscles wouldn’t be able to do more reps at a lower weight.

In other words, muscular failure is not achieved when you fail to do more reps with a heavy weight.

It is achieved when you reach the point where you can barely lift tiny weights or do something simple like a push up.

My favorite way to achieve muscular failure is the drop set:

You take a weight, then go to failure with it.

Once you hit failure, immediately lower the weight, and achieve failure again.

You can repeat this process as many times as you want, until you reach the lowest weight on a machine or use tiny dumbbells.

See the video below from 1:20 to see how drop sets are supposed to be done.

I use drop sets a lot in my training.

2. Lift With My Muscles and Not With My Ego

I don’t try to use as much weight as possible on the exercises.

Instead, I prefer to use less weight, so I can use my muscles to lift the weight and get more reps in.

If I know I can lift 80 pounds, I’ll most likely use 50-60 pounds.

This enables me to focus on flexing the target muscle as much as possible during each rep.

Combining long time-under-tension with drop sets has been key to continue growing in my 5th year of training.

My drop sets often take several minutes, but they give me a better pump than anything else I’ve tried.

My Favorite Exercises for Each Muscle Group

So far I’ve explained the principles behind each of my training sessions, but how about exercises, sets and reps?

I don’t have that. I don’t go to the gym with a list of exercises, sets and reps.

Instead, I make up my workout based on which of my favorite exercises are available at the time I go.

Below you will find my list of favorite exercises for each muscle group:

(DB = Dumbbell, BB = Barbell)

Back

Pull Ups and Chin Ups

Lying Machine Rows

Seated Machine Rows

Lat Pulldowns

Single Arm Lat Pulldowns

Quads, Hamstrings and Calves

Leg Press

Pistol Squats

Seated Hamstring Machine Curls

Sitting Machine Calf Raises

Standing Machine Calf Raises

Chest

Diamond Push Ups with feets tilted forward and hips up

DB Flyes

Pec Deck Flyes

Cable Crossovers

Incline DB Pullover

Shoulders

DB Lateral Raises

BB Press

Reverse Pec Deck Flyes

DB Front Raises

Wall Handstand Push Ups

Arms

DB Curls

Triceps Pushdowns

Close Grip Chin Ups

Diamond Push Ups

Machine Biceps Curls

Abs

Hanging Leg Raises

Ab Crunch Machine

My favorite exercises are selected based on how I feel when I do them.

There are some exercises which hurt my joints, so I can’t push myself on them without risking an injury.

A good example is skull crushers for triceps. When I do skull crushers, I get elbow pain before I even feel a burn in my triceps.

In contrast, I can do triceps pushdowns all day long, and my elbows won’t hurt, but my triceps will get a great workout.

Exercises like skull crushers don’t make the list, since there’s no point in risking an injury when there are so many great alternatives to choose from.

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Current Training Routine: Sonny’s 5-Split

Currently, I follow a 5-Split Routine:

  • Monday: Back, Traps, Abs
  • Tuesday: Chest, Calves
  • Wednesday: Biceps, Triceps, Forearms
  • Thursday: Quads, Hamstrings
  • Friday: Shoulders, Calves, Abs

As explained earlier, I don’t have exercises, sets or reps written down, but I usually do my favorite exercises, and make sure that I achieve muscular failure on a regular basis.

Below, you can see how my training looked like last week.

(DB = Dumbbell, BB = Barbell)

Monday: Back, Abs 

  • Pull Ups: 3 x 8-12 (1 minute rest)
  • Lying Machine Rows: 8 x 8-12  (30 seconds rest)
  • Lat Pulldowns: 4 drop sets (1 minute rest)
  • Single Arm Lat Pulldowns: 4 drop sets (2 minutes rest)
  • Reverse Pec Deck Flyes: 3 drop sets (2 minutes rest)
  • Leg Raises: 3 sets (1-2 minutes rest)

Tuesday: Chest, Calves

  • Cable Crossovers: 5 x 8-12 (30 seconds rest)
  • Pec Deck Flyes: 5 x 8-12 (1 minute rest)
  • DB Flyes: 5 x 8-12 (30 seconds rest)
  • Incline DB Pullovers + Diamond Push Ups: 8 supersets (3 minutes rest)
  • Standing Calf Raises: 4 x 8-12 (1 minute rest)

Wednesday: Biceps, Triceps 

  • DB Curls: 4 x 8-12 (1 minute rest)
  • Triceps Pushdowns: 4 drop sets (2 minutes rest)
  • Triceps Pushdowns + Single Arm Cable Curls: 8 supersets (no rest)
  • Diamond Push Ups + Regular Push Ups: 1 Superset
  • Chin Ups + Negative Chin Ups: 1 Superset
  • Machine Biceps Curls: 4 x 8-12 (2 minutes rest)

Thursday: Quads, Hamstrings

  • Leg Press: 1 drop set, immediately followed by bodyweight squats to failure
  • Hamstring Curl Machine: 4 drop sets (2 minutes rest)
  • Ab Crunch Machine: 3 drop sets (2 minutes rest)

Friday: Shoulders, Calves, Abs

  • BB Press: 1 x 3
  • DB Lateral Raises + BB Press: 4 supersets (2 minutes rest) NOTE: I used 3 pairs of dumbbells to dropset the lateral raises.
  • Reverse Pec Deck Flyes: 4 Drop sets (2 minutes rest)
  • DB Front Raises + Diamond Push Ups: 8 supersets (1 minute rest)
  • Sitting Calf Raises: 8 x 8-12 (1 minute rest)
  • Hanging Leg Raises: 5 sets (1 minute rest)
  • Ab Crunch Machine: 3 drop sets (2 minutes rest)

As you can see, there’s a lot of sets and reps in my routine and fairly low rest. This is the way I like to train and it works.

I just completed my 2nd week of Sonny’s split, and I’ve already seen an increase in the measurements of my arms and chest!

Also, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t train traps on Mondays and forearms on Wednesday. That’s simply because I don’t want to grow those muscles.

When I Bulk, I Eat More. When I Cut, I Eat Less.

I eat 2 meals a day:

  • Breakfast/Lunch: Rye bread with natural peanut butter or liver paste.
  • Dinner: Rib steaks or ground beef with white rice and a bowl of green vegetables. (Sometimes I’ll have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner).

This is how my eating looks like 80-90% of the time, with the last 10-20% being cheat meals.

The biggest difference in my eating lies in the quantity of food consumed.

As explained in my bulking article, I cycle bulking with cutting every few weeks so I can gain muscle while staying lean.

I’ll bulk for 2-3 weeks while training hard. I have a large appetite, so I just eat when I’m hungry during my bulks. This results in me gaining a combination of fat and muscle.

My short bulks are followed by a 2 week cut, where I eat less, and lose the excess fat I gained during my bulk. When I cut, I’ll have smaller portions at home and eat less cheat meals.

Here’s an example of how my eating differs during bulking and cutting:

  • Bulk (2-3 weeks): 2 bigger meals a day and 3-4 cheat meals a week
  • Cut (2 weeks): 2 smaller meals a day and 1 cheat meal a week

It’s that simple. The foods I eat at home stay the same, but the quantity of food and amount of cheat meals change.

Conclusion: How to Gain Muscle While Staying Lean

In this article, I showed you how ONE week of my training looked like.

I was bulking during that week, so I was able to push myself much harder compared to if I had been cutting.

When I decide to cut, I will keep using Sonny’s 5-Split, but I will reduce the intensity and volume.

Instead of doing 23 sets for chest, I may do 12. Instead of doing 11 drop sets for back, I may do 4 or 5.

This is because training and eating go together. If you want to do an intense training routine, you need to eat enough to support that intensity.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this article, then it’s that sentence!

Finally, my training and nutrition may look messy, but I’m able to gain muscle while staying because:

  • +80% of the time I eat REAL, NUTRITIOUS foods.
  • I train hard 4-6 times a week, with maximum 3 weeks off each year.
  • My training matches my eating. When I want to gain muscle, I eat more and train like a machine. When I want to lose fat, I eat less and train hard, but not as hard as during my bulks.

I hope this article showed you that having a diet and written down training routine is not the only way to progress! You need some amount of structure, but even the best diet and training routine can’t replace putting in the work in the gym and in the kitchen over a long period of time.



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Comments

  1. Hi Oskar,

    Many thanks for putting the time into this site and your articles. You’ve helped me and many others.

    Do you typically only hit a body part once per week? as per the example routine posted.

    It looks like your getting in anywhere from 140-200+ reps for a given body part so I see the high volume. And I believe too this is key for a skinny-fat like myself.

    Just trying to get a rough guide on total reps and days per week I should be hitting things.

    Thanks

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Matthew,

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you like it.

      I will give you a breakdown of my weekly reps below:

      Diamond push ups: 250-300 reps
      DB rows: 300-400 reps
      Rear Shoulders (isolation): 225-300 reps
      Lateral shoulders (isolation): 225-300 reps
      Upper chest (isolation): 225-300 reps
      Triceps (isolation): 225-300 reps
      Bodyweight squats: 300 reps
      Plank: 1 max set 6 days per week

      I don’t do chin ups right now because I don’t have access to a bar in my condo so I do rows instead

      Basically the body parts I want to sculpt I do very high volume on (eg shoulders)

  2. Great article.
    It is a waste of time to workout and eat all junk food just to gain weight. Most of the weight will be from fat rather than muscle. Hence it is very important to get the right nutrition along with the right workout to gain muscle while staying lean at the same time.

  3. Burcin BOZKIR says:

    I want to ask to you. Why your arms is not well developed as your chest or back?

    thanks.

    • Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer says:

      My arms are as big as I want them to be and proportional to the rest of my measurements. I never wanted to become a big bodybuilder.

  4. Hey Oskar –

    I’ve been on your beginner bodyweight program (chinups, pushups, squats) for about 6 weeks. I increased my chinups from 3 per set (around 10 max total) to 6 per set (I can do about 30 chinups in 15 minutes now). Now I’m trying to figure out how to reach 15 chinups in one set so I can move on to the weight training phase. Currently I’m doing chinups in sets of 4 with 2 minutes rest, until I can’t do anymore with good form, then I do a few negatives. I could probably do 6 or 7 chinups in one set if I really pushed myself. If I keep up my sets of 4, will I eventually be able to perform a set of 15? I’m 6’1 and 175 lbs. Should I vary up my chinup training or keep up with my many sets of non-failure reps if I want to reach a 15 chinup max?

  5. Gabriel Degenhart says:

    Hey Oskar,

    I’m fifteen and i have gynecomastia, i can’t do a diamond push-up but am getting close. i eat extremely healthy (meat, eggs, nuts butter coconut oil, lots of vegetables etc) but can’t get rid of my puffy nipples. i hate it because it makes me look really fat but i’m not, just my nipples. Do you have any advice? when i’m cold my nipples shrink and look normal, what does that mean?

  6. Hi Oskar,

    If you chose 1 exercise per muscle group in bodyweight training, which ones would those be? And how much volume would you do if you worked out 2/3 times a week?

    thanks a lot!

  7. Hey Oskar, quick question. I’m having trouble getting my own routine started. I’ve neen training for close to 4 years now with limited visible progress, mainly just increases in strength. Obviously, I’d like to change that. What kind of training program would you suggest, would PHAT be good, or maybe a custom one? I know how to design my own routine but I need some guidance to make sure I pack on muscle.

  8. Hey Oskar, longtime lurker here. I started out at 234lbs and 34% bf, while ending up at 5’11” 168lb and 12% bf under a strict PSMF protocol that supposedly promised little to no LBM loss. Boy was I wrong. From 168lbs and unable to do a single chin up, I am now able to do 15 chin ups after 5 months of training. However, I had an unusual urge of hating to do pushups and squats, and my diet went out of whack with constant Korean chicken and KFC. Now, I am at 190lbs and 18% bf, gaining 11lbs of muscle (1.25 inches on my biceps!) and about 10lbs of fat, with my push/butt muscles lagging behind. Now, I have a lot of fat in my midsection with my clothes off, and don’t want to go back to being either fat or weak. I’m not sure where to go from here, and any feedback from here is appreciated.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Ollie,

      You’ve made great progress. What routine did you follow to achieve 15 chins in 5 months?

      Since you’re 18% body fat, your best bet is to cut body-fat while working the push ups and squats harder.

      • Thanks for replying Oskar.

        I started off with Australian pullups for 2 weeks 3-4 days recovery inbetween, then worked my way up to chair assisted chin ups for another week, then gradually followed by multiple sets of 1-3 chin ups for 5 sets, resting for 5-8 minutes between a set for the next month. Eventually it worked up to 8 chin ups, and I would crank out 5-6 on off days daily whenever I pass by the kitchen (where the pull up bar is).

        Right now it’s at a bit of a plateau due to the weight gain and other things I guess. My pullups are notably weaker, only being able to go up to 9, so I’m not sure if I should switch to pullups while I rehab my pushups/squats.

        Do you recommend any push up alternatives? I attribute a lot of my hate towards push ups due to not feeling my chest being worked on despite proper form, and the aerobic-like pain when I do pushups and elevated ones.

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Have you tried different hand positionings/range of motions on the push up? I suggest you experiment a lot with the push up to find the type that works best for you. If that doesn’t work, try dips or start training in the gym to have a bigger selection of exercises.

  9. Great article, Oskar. You’ve got some good shit here (even though I’ve never been skinny-fat). You mentioned your use of drop sets. I was wondering- do you incorporate return reps or pause reps into your program when you’re focusing on strength?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you Brendan, your site is looking good and I can see you’ve written a lot!

      What are pause reps and return reps? I have done rest-pause sets if that’s what you mean?

      • Thank you Oskar. What can I say? I guess I have a lot to write about.

        Nah, they’re not rest-pause sets. Pause reps, you hold it at the bottom of something like a squat for 3 seconds. Return reps you come up a third, back down, and then all the way back up for 1 rep. The pauses have been great for increasing my strength at the bottom of my squat, and the returns I was told would help build my work capacity.

  10. Hello Oskar. Im having some troubles here… I´m getting a little confused with this article and another. When I should do the serge nubret beginner pump training and when should i do this sonny one of this article?

  11. Hi Oskar,

    Just want to know. I have been leaning down and trying to bulk but I just could not get my size up or rather weight. Its MY very first BULK cycle after leaning down from fatty.

    Just some questions, how much should I be eating per day? And what should it be (anything? it must contain carbs,fats and protein?). I have been working out at least 5 times per week 2 rest days in between and eating 3 main meals per day.

    Also, I have this problem. I would get big on some days like last week and this week I go skinny again. I have been doing the same routine throughout this whole time (from leaning to “so-called” bulking period of mine). *pushups, diamonds, pullup variations).

    So in short: Why my size varies through weeks? I would see that my arms are big in one week or a day then it would go back “skinny-ish”. Also, my diet, how much I should be eating per day and also what it should contain.

    Thanks

    • Sorry by big I mean the size of my arms and chest, I can see quite a bulgy bicep on one day and the next, it is soft as a harden jelly. I have minor gyno, and my chest is growing but only the under chest not the mid section and upper.

  12. Hi Oskar, I read that link you posted above http://strengthbysonny.com/how-to-use-split-training/ and it says “Just remember not to work it on consecutive days”.
    When do you think it’s time to change from the basic routine you suggested (chin ups/pull ups, push ups, squats almost everyday) to a split that doesn’t hit the same muscles on consecutive days?
    thanks!

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I wouldn’t switch to such a split until 2-3 years into training. I believe beginners/intermediates can benefit more from higher frequency.

      • Thanks again Oskar!
        I’ll start the bodyweight routine as you suggested!
        I was thinking about doing diamond push ups and then “finish” the chest with the ropes, following by chin ups and some lat machine+curl

  13. What do you think about ab training? do you think its worth it for skinny fat guys when trying to loose fat?

  14. Hi Oskar,

    Just to update you on my results. It has been a miraculous three months since I beginned training seriously hard. I started cutting like you adviced and I managed to “feel” my hard earned abs for the first time! Really happy and I hope I can achieve your “standard” soon enough!

    Also just a question, I have been in training for three whole months with 2 weeks break in total and could achieve 17 pull ups and 30 pushups now. My question is how would one know that he/she is no longer a beginner anymore?

    Thanks!

  15. Hi Oskar

    Just wondering when do the simple plan of “pull-ups / push-ups / Squats / ABs” stops being effective and how much “transformation” one can expect from only that ?

    I did this workout for a week and then injured myself (maybe I pushed myself too much) & planning to restart it as soon as I feel better. I fell for its simplicity but now this new one seems much more complex.

    Thanks

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      LT,

      The amount of transformation you can get from bodyweight training is pretty much limitless – there are always ways to make the exercises harder. In my 2013 transformation picture I was mainly doing bodyweight training, and I was a lean 190 pounds.

      I’m sorry to hear about your injury. Did you do the workout from this article? The workout in this article is the one I’m doing, but it’s not one I would recommend for a beginner or even an intermediate. It took me 4 years to build up to train like this.

      • Thank you Oskar for your reply

        I was training your “simple method” (Chin-up Push-up Squats & ABs) but pushed myself a bit to hard on the chin-ups and sprained a muscle so I had to back-off

        I am now better and thing to restart gradually

        Cheers

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Good to hear you’re better.

          Just take it easy for a few weeks, never skip warm up, listen to your body and it will be good again.

  16. Hi Oskar, i am reader of your blog. Firstly congratulations for the useful and helpful content. One favour. if i give you some recent pics and stats of me could you reply to my email and give me a plan.

    Thanks in advance
    Bob

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you Bob.

      Unfortunately I can’t give you a plan. I have 10 people asking me everyday for a plan, so I would be spending all day long making plans for you guys if I did that.

      • Oskar, if i sent you my recent pics could you give me a common advice what i need to do in the future?
        Bob

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Yes I’ll get you headed in the right direction, you can send them through the contact form.

  17. Hi Oscar!
    I do 2 split workout.

    Day A chest/shoulder/tri
    – incline bench
    – dumbbell flies
    – military press
    – shrugs
    – diamond push ups

    Day B legs/back/bi
    – squat
    – calf raises
    – lat pulldown (I can’t do a pullup yet, that’s what I’m working towards)
    – dumbbell or barbell rows
    – bicep curls

    I’d appreciate an input if I should rest a day after the two workouts or if I can do both 3 times a week, and rest one day at Sunday?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I can’t tell you that, but listen to your body. If you feel you need the rest, either take a rest day, or do a light workout. Also, negative chin ups are better than lat pull downs if you want to be able to do one chin up. Read about how to get your first chin in my ebook.

  18. Hey Oskar, quick question: what is your hip eight and weight? I’ve been trying to guess from your pictures, but can’t tell. Also, what do you do for a living?
    Thank you?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Julian,

      I’m 6″3 and my weight is around 190 pounds. Hips are 40 inches.

      I’m a full time student and receive educational grants which cover all my expenses.

  19. Hey Oskar, liking you r blog. One question I have is do you think there are any disadvantages to longer bulks, besides the fact that you have to carry around all that fat during it?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Yes, I can think of 3 big ones right now:

      1) The longer you bulk, the longer time you’ll have to cut after. When you cut for a long time, you’re gonna lose a lot of muscle unless you do it slowly.
      2) When your bodyfat get’s high your estrogen and cortisol levels will start increasing, and this makes it hard to gain a good ratio of muscle/fat during your bulk, so you may as well stop before that happens.
      3) You can’t see your muscle gains when they’re all covered with fat, so you will have a hard time evaluating progress.

  20. Hi Oskar!
    After hitting the gym on and off for almost a year on SS training, i had gained some muscle and lost some amount of fat. I currently weigh around 70kg at a height of 172cm. My problem is my belly. While my arms, chest, and legs have had some gains and fat loss, my belly continues to be a huge problem that I can’t seem to get rid of.
    I am considering quitting the gym all together and start bodyweight training using the 3 exercises that you recommend. Plus cycling once a week.
    Currently I can do 3 to 5 diamond push-ups and 3 Chin ups.
    Do you think bodyweight training will be enough for me to lose all that belly fat?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      To lose the belly fat, you need to focus on eating less.

      If you do that, and start training more frequently (4-6 times a week), you should see a reduction in body fat.

  21. It’s not that I haven’t come across the above information before, but the way you put it is just great; love your blog.I am a beginner who has been making some progress using calisthenics.

    I was trying to do dips the other day and I couldn’t control myself from shivering a bit. Someone told me it was because of a weak core.

    What do you have to say about this, and do you ever exclusively train your core?
    Are they any other parallels you supplement weight training with? (eg: yoga, meditation, core training, etc.. )

    Thanks and keep rockin’

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Glad to hear that you’re making progress!

      Don’t worry too much about the shivering.

      I did yoga for a few months, but currently don’t do it. Yoga made me shiver a lot, so I know what you mean. My teacher told me it’s most likely because of a weak core, so I’ve started training my abs.

      Currently my ab training consists of an ab crunch machine and hanging leg raises.

  22. I go to failure on calisthenics as well. Why don’t you eat eggs?

  23. Hey Oskar! Thank you for taking so much valuable time to write these articles.

    Really Helpful.

    I have several questions though, I am a beginner and I have been doing calisthenics for the past two months or so. Before I found your article, I have been bulking ever since like 3 main meals per day with 1 snack. I do train at least 1h 30 min per day and I know that I am not having much intensity on my exercises. I think my body fat percentage has not decreased ever since. I have started cutting down a bit like having only 3 main meals per day and after lunch I would work out (this is my third day doing this). I have gain muscles for through the past two months too and I could “feel” the hardness around my arms only. I am not sure how lean am I as the bf calculators are not accurate.

    My questions are from these statements,

    1. How would you recommend me to achieve muscle failure through calisthenics?
    2. Should I be doing the same intensity (as I have always done) in my 2 weeks cutting period as i have more body fats to shed. Then afterwards if I gain a leaner body, I would start implimenting the EAT more, EXERCISE MORE, eat LESS, EXERCise lesser than bulking period.
    3. How do I calculate body fats? I read in one of your articles regarding fat loss and I can only see 2 of my abs.
    4. Am I on the right track to start cutting when I already started bulking? (2weeks cut and 3 weeks bulk)? I do not want to get “stuck” in that vicious cycle too. My bulk was only 2 kg from 63kg and mostly body fats. I do not want to cut and fall into the unhealthy BMI too. I am 175cm with a BMI of 20.

    Thank you!

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      You’re welcome Greg.

      1: http://skinnyfattransformation.com/get-muscular-calisthenics/
      2: You should train as hard as possible during your cuts, but not as hard as during your bulks. It’s impossible for me to tell you exactly how much intensity you should do without me training you and tracking your progress. If what you’re doing works, then continue doing it.
      3: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/07/02/body-fat-percentage/ – Scroll down and see the examples of different bodyfat levels. Based on that, you can estimate your bodyfat. If you want to know exactly how much bodyfat you have you can do a DEXA scan.
      4: Don’t worry about BMI, it’s useless. Cut the fat until you have about 4 visible abs, then do the bulking and cutting cycles.

      • Great inputs! Thank you so much!

        How long would you normally train per day?
        When I train, it is fairly inconsistent as I need longer rest to continue doing another set. For example, I could do 12 pull ups now in my first set and in my second I could manage to do probably 6 and later I could do 10. Would this inconsistency affect my training?

        Also would you train on an empty stomach? (Im in the fat loss series). I usually workout in the evening 4hours after my lunch and an hour before dinner and I am often feeling quite tired faster. I dont take post workout drinks (my dinner would be it).

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Currently I train around 1-1.5 hour from Monday to Friday. I may do some calisthenics on the weekends if the weather is good and I feel like it.

          When I train, it is fairly inconsistent as I need longer rest to continue doing another set. For example, I could do 12 pull ups now in my first set and in my second I could manage to do probably 6 and later I could do 10. Would this inconsistency affect my training?

          That’s only a question you can answer. Can you do more reps on the pull up now than you could one month ago? Are your lats and biceps bigger than before? If it’s working, keep doing it. If not, try something new.

          Also would you train on an empty stomach? (Im in the fat loss series). I usually workout in the evening 4hours after my lunch and an hour before dinner and I am often feeling quite tired faster.

          For me, it’s ideal to train around 2-3 hours after eating a meal, and then I eat my next meal around 1.5 hours after training. You should eat in such a way that you can push yourself the most at the gym. Try eating your lunch a bit later, or eat a small meal around 2 hours before your workout.

          • Thank you once again.

            Since your last reply, I think I have managed to get down to a little weight and I am looking quite skinny now (but I can see from the mirror that my bf has reduced). Still I think I am around 14-17% category.

            But tummy fats still has not gone away. I think it is due to the “loosening of the skin” due to weight lost. Did you happened to get this too? If yes, how did you “get rid” of it. The “fats/loose skin” could be seen from the navel to below but before the legs.

  24. Hi Oskar,

    How much weight do you gain during your bulks? I want to know whether I should eat just slightly more during bulking or eat as much as I can.

    If I eat as much as I can, I will probably get around 10 pounds of weight during those suggested 3 weeks and then have hard time cutting it down in just 2 weeks. What do you advice?

    I’m 5’7, 145 lbs, 13% BF.

    Thank you.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I usually gain around 6.5-8.5 pounds, however some of those pounds are just water and because I have more food in my stomach. As soon as I start cutting, I immediately lose something like 3 pounds in a few days, and then I’ll spend around 12 days cutting the last 3.5-5.5 pounds.

      I suggest you start eating slightly more, and see how that works first.

  25. Good article, Oskar – good to see you’re getting some greens in there;)

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thanks Nicklas. I really don’t like the greens, but I force myself to eat them after dinner. Let’s meet up again soon.

  26. Thanks for the great article!
    I always can take your experience and use it to improve my fitness!

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Great to hear Ron, how has progress been lately?

      • Since last November I have steadily worked out and played baseball.

        My weight is the same, about 152, my waist is 35-1/2 a bit more than the 35-1/8 that it was then. I just did 18 chins to see how I could do, so my max went up by 1. Feeling good and fit.

  27. Interesting the wide variety of approaches out there.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thanks for the comment Will. You have an interesting approach which differs a lot from mine, but it clearly works for you.

  28. Did I read well: You have only two meals per day?

    Besides discipline, how do you manage to do it? Like, do you drink lots of water too?

    I live in a remote region so I ain’t lifting for the time being, I have been doing ‘Insanity’ though.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Yes, most days I eat twice. I manage it, because I eat a lot of solid foods in each meal. Natural peanut butter and rib steaks have a lot of fat, and that keeps you full for much longer than carbs. I drink a lot of water too, and get good sleep (sleep helps regulate appetite).

  29. It’s interesting how you do things. I am the type that likes to track and measure everything. It’s cool to see training and eating from a different perspective that is clearly working well!

    Keep crushing it!
    -Gabe Johansson

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I’m usually also a structured person who likes to track things, but over the years I’ve found that this approach works best for me.

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