Monday, January 31, 2011

Final Winner Announced - "MuscleHack for a Day"

Well, thanks to my best bud Oscar, we have our latest winner. Nick Reed, an old college buddy of mine, will get to go up to 22 Wing with his drop-in fee for the day paid by yours truly. He'll get a full HIT Mass workout, straight from guru Mark McManus's Total Anabolism 3.1.

I'm especially interested in getting Nick's opinion of a THT-style workout as he's a current P90 devotee. I've checked out P90X before and I wasn't that stoked on it. I'm not a "do it do it" guy that can be coached by a video. I need to learn the theory and the practical and then just do it myself.

So, two workouts are pending for the lucky winners! Can't wait!

Well, that was entertaining

Soooo... I have to fess up. I missed a Consolidation workout and then became a hypocrite in the same day. Eventful, no?

I dodged the Cons workout on Saturday (which would have been the "right" day for me because of work obligations, or at least appointments which I had hoped would come to pass. They didn't. So, I resolved to do one Sunday.

Fail #2. It was Amanda's only day off that week and I elected to spend the day with her, as well as keeping the one work appointment a day late (due to scheduling reasons at the other end).

To top it off, I went to hockey last night. And I was soundly rewarded with a puck in the ankle - a full-on snapshot from one of the better guys on our night, too. Nothing broken, but I'll be feeling this one for a few days.

So, redemption. Gym tonight, and as my penance I'm building in some deadlifts first-off, followed by dips part way through.

The elbow is still sensitive to pressure in certain directions, but nowhere near as much now. Direct leaning-on-it pressure is possible, so that tells me that it's healing - slowly. After a quick pang of pain putting on the elbow pad last night at hockey, I miraculously got through the entire 1h 20m skate without issue (aside from the aforementioned shot block). Even potted a few, too. As the saying goes, "the sun even shines on a dog's ass some days" or somesuch.

This week's revelation, surprisingly, is power. Raw acceleration 50 minutes into the game is almost ludicrous. "Stepping around" a few guys on the ice is easier, and partly because I'm sure that they're shocked and don't expect that level of "oomph" from me.

I still have stone hands half the time when I'm shooting, but hey - that's me to a T.

Friday, January 28, 2011

How do you work out with a bruised, "angry" elbow?

Very simple - you simply do not do anything that exacerbates the situation. As Mike Sorentino would say, "That's a bad situation right there."

So, after 6 standing incline cable curls (two-handed), I found that my usual technique of turning the curl into a standing preacher curl wouldn't hold up. The motion was fine, but the pressure on that part of my elbow physically was not. So, I disconnected the two-hand bar and attached a D-ring. Single-handed stnading cable curls it was, then. I finished my reps (to failure!) and moved on to triceps. Amazingly, that went off without a hitch.

I feel a little joint soreness this morning, but nothing of the type of pain I was feeling with direct pressure on the elbow (i.e. resting on it). Also, that type of pain is diminishing, so it seems to be healng fairly well.

Last night was also another small milestone - 410lbs x 12 reps for hack squats. Time to move the weight up again! Also, increments are coming for tricep extensions, shoulder (trap) shrugs and calf raises.

The whole thing revolves around being adaptable (so long as you're physically able to do the work invovled). Change up an exercise if a certain one just can't be performed optimally.

" If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend." - Bruce Lee.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This new THT 2.0 article needs its own post

No, really. It does. I've said this time and again, speaking not only from handed-down knowledge, or thoughts inferred on related matter. No, I"m speaking from direct experience. YOU NEED TO TRAIN YOUR BACK. Upper, mid and lower.

I'm talking about Mark's latest chapter for THT 2.0 (re-fix).

Years ago, I injured my back somehow - likely playing ball hockey with the boys at work, perhaps doing something else. The only thing that's really relevant to this story is that days later after the initial injury (and subsequent ignorance of the severity of the situation), I managed to turn it into something almost infinitely worse.

I awoke just after Christmas to searing, blinding, fireworks-behind-the-eyes pain. If you've ever heard the term "pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being overload and you pass out", I was about a 9.75. I was sweating from the effort of my lower back and mid back muscles clenching and spasming. Every conceivable position I could bend my back into, from ramrod straight to fetal, was agony. I couldn't lie on any side - front, back, left or right. Sitting in a chair was marginally better than anything else, but to reach that chair, I had to crawl/slither off of the bed - that took no less than 15 minutes. People genuinely wanting to help me tried tugging me. That made stars shoot in front of my eyes. It took two days from that point to get my back to where I wasn't walking like I was 90+ years old.

The point of the whole story is this: I neglected my back. Even when I got into various phases of working out, pre-MuscleHack, I hardly did any lower back exercises. At first it was pure ignorance - no apparatus I recognized to do lower back, no knowledge (sadly) of doing deadlifts to strengthen myself. Then, just after my "accident", I tried a little exercise and found it did nothing. Even three and some years ago, right before I started MuscleHacking, I did almost no lower back work. Lots of abs work, but that's all for my core.

Driving sucked now (post-injury). Anyone who knows me knows that I live to be behind the wheel. I love to drive. I'll drive almost anywhere just beceause. Now, however, was different. It didn't matter what I drove, anything more than an hour for a car trip sucked. My lower back would ache badly by the end of the trip on the same side that I had injured.

After I started MuscleHacking, a curious thing occured. I noticed that I could drive my truck (with awful American-styled seat cushions - no lumbar support, nothing. Awful.) for well over an hour with minimal pain at best. Even my first-generation Ford Focus seats, which are known for a bar that runs at the bottom of the back cushion, are comfy after 3 hours and then some now. A recent 4 hour trip in the truck left me with just the need to stretch.

The vast majority of my morning back pain is gone. My post-ice hockey back pain the next morning is gone.

I'll say it again: train your back. We tend to neglect these things called our backs, and we shouldn't.

Don't neglect your back. Start training it - slowly and with light weight at first because you've likely never really trained it before. Then, after a few weeks you can start picking up the weight until you're in MuscleHack territory for weight moved.

Good luck and happy lifting!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

THT HIT Mass day rework results

After realizing that some of my most important exercises were being "cheated" on by running continuous split sets, I opted to revamp my workout in anticipation of my intent to follow THT 2.0 in a "textbook" format. No cheats, no modifications other than exercises that replace barbell work that I can't do alone (bench press, incline bench, squats, etc.).

I have to admit, yesterday afternoon was a shocking scenario. The end result in a nutshell? I have indeed been making real gains not only in size but in strength. I'm also terminally addicted to hack squats.

Remember, the numbers don't matter. They're just a metric that allows you to gauge and further your own progress. Being wowed because someone can lift xxx lbs of weight is nice and all, but the only stats that should matter to you are your own. In that case, feel free to be stoked on your own progress. :)

Examples: Seated pulldowns - previous to rework: 250 lbs x 12 (split set, 2 x 6 reps). Last night -  240 lbs x 8..

Ovehead machine press: before - 130 x 6 inside grip, 110 x 6 outside grip. After - 110 x 9 outside grip. Inside also works upper pecs, decided to isolate a bit more and not do inside grip.

Standing "lean-back" cable curls: Before - 190 x 10 (split, 3 sets - 6,2,2). After - 170 x 8 (clean), then 2 more for the hell of it.

Bent-over Tricep Extensions: Before - 205 x 8 (split last 1-2). After - 180 x 10 (clean), then another 6. Really trying to "blow up" my triceps.

Pec deck (inside): 260 x 9. No change here, except that I was doing 8 x 2 for the outside (wide) pec deck at 310 cause I've literally run out of weight. My hybrid chest workout for the next two weeks will be inside pec deck and then as much as I can bench for at least 8 reps after a 2 min rest from pec deck.

Seated calf raises: Before - 160 x 16 (2 split sets of 8). After - 160 x 10. LOTS of muttered swearing here. :P

You'll notice that I missed my abs (normally incline situps with 50lb dumbell, followed by captain's chair leg raises and then 90 degree bent arm hanging leg raises), delt raises and trap shrugs. I simply ran out of time yesterday. I'll be hitting those today and for the remainder of the week on "off" days so that they get the same rest as usual.

Oh, hack squats (plate machine): Before - 410 x 10. Yesterday - 410 x 11. No change in method. That gets my thighs to just below 90 degrees with my lower leg / calves. Then, I drop 90lbs (2 plates of 45s) and go for deep hack squats. Yesterday was 320 x 9, previous day was 320 x 8.

I hope this post was informative about the dangers of getting too caught-up in the numbers. Thankfully I didn't injure myself (although I'd never lift to the point of injury) and I didn't slow my progression much (if at all). Stick to what's in the exercise guides and you'll do fine, or otherwise you might stray from the path.

Happy Wednesday lifting folks!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nutrition find of the week!

So... Amanda and I are out shopping last night and we stumble upon the perfect source (for now) for all of my peanut butter cravings - Kraft All-Natural Peanut Butter at Walmart of all places!

I've been meaning to get into buying all-natural peanut butter, but the cost vs size deal does make it a tad prohibitive. However, for now, this is a sensible way to get started. No preservatives, no salt, no sugar, just roasted peauts.

Amanda tried some this morning and said it wasn't for her. :) That's ok, more for me! :D

I enjoy peanut butter on brown or whole-grain bread, on crackers in a pinch, as well as a part of homemade protein bars. It's a great protein source.

HIT Mass tonight. Revamping a few workouts starting tonight. This should be interesting.

You should always be analyzing what you're lifting - to see if you're cheating at it anywhere, if you can make form or weight/rep improvements. Don't be overly critical of yourself - negativity will only set you back. Instead, think about your progress thus far in light of what the numbers show and then assess if there's any immediate work to be done.

For me, it's dropping a bit of weight on my cable curls and focusing on lots of clean reps in the set. I can curl 10-11 reps @ 195 lbs, but I need to split the set too often to get there. So, drop the weight and work on one continuous set. The same thing with my triceps. Going to drop it by 15lbs and go for a complete set of at least 9-10 reps at that weight (185 for the new weight today). Also revamping pull-downs and maybe dropping 10lbs on my calf raises.

It's a mental booster to be able to lift that much, even with split sets, but each time I start a new cycle that Mark McManus has written, I try to get closer and closer to the "gospel" version. He has laid out one hell of a foundation for all of us to build on - we just need to use the tools properly. ;)

I'm definitely not knocking my progress, I just want to make the most out of my time in the gym. That's one of the main reasons I MuscleHack (because it stays true to Mark's word) - More Muscle. Less Fat. Less Time.

Hapy lifting!


UPDATE: All-natural peanut butter. Sounds innocent enough eh? Don't forget to STIR IT! Having said that, it was absolutely delicious as part of my lunch today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

This is all the cardio I do...

No, really. I don't run for the sake of running. I don't do treadmills (any more). I don't bike on stationary bikes. I don't elliptical. I play ice hockey once a week between September and April, and I play ball hockey anywhere between 0-3 times a week, depending on my work and personal schedules.

I'm attaching a picture of the actual ball hockey court we have at work. Yes, at work. In the basement, along with a well-stocked gym (dual stack universal, power rack, bowflex and some cardio junk, dumbells, etc) and showers / change rooms. In a nutshell, we're spoiled and it's one of the many reasons that I've stayed with my employer for almost 9 years now.

It's quite long and it fits 3 by 3 (and goalies) for ball hockey nicely. On days when we're short a couple of guys, we play 2 on 2 and that's a wide-open run. See? We're spoiled.

What I'm going to get to is that I can play down here for over 2.5 hours, almost without a break, and I can keep going for more. THIS is what a MuscleHack-built person is capable of. If I was so inclined, I'm sure I could run a 5-10K without thinking too hard about it. Probably a half-marathon if it moved me to. You get all the cardio you need doing a proper MuscleHack workout. I'm living proof of that.

Cardio eats muscle. It's that simple. A cardio-based workout is one that runs rabid within your system, fuelling your efforts from wherever it can get the calories - local glycogen stores within your muscles, then moving on to fat deposits and muscle tissue alike. To keep from losing a lot of muscle, don't rely on cardio as a primary component in your workouts. Your muscles will literally thank you by growing unchecked. :)

Week #3's winner announced!

Well, I had a coworker click the "Random Name" button on my Random Name Puller program today - today's winner is Anthony Millen - an old friend of mine from college. We're still in touch quite regularly, and he was enthusiastic to be a part of the MuscleHack contest that I had come up with.

So, I'll be getting in touch with him today and having him pick a day this week so that I can drag him up to 22 Wing for a MuscleHack THT HIT workout!

Consolidation - the aftermath

So, that has to be one of the BEST Consolidations I've ever done. End of story.

We threw in some cable curls, some overhead press, added in some close-grip seated cable rows, and I did an extra set of deep hack squats - up to 320lbs for those now. The "just below 90 degrees" weight is currently 410.

As of next week, I really need to get into weighted dips. 20+ reps on the first set is now an everyday occurence, as opposed to a trial.

On the other hand, it was good to get Pierre in for a Consolidation so he could see how his fitness plan stacks up against mine. In some respects, he's right there with me. Some of the stuff, like hack squats, he's a bit behind. He has now resolved to ditch group exercise classes for the time being and focus on weights. :P

All in all, a good way to spend an early Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Consolidation day today

So, this should be my LAST Consolidation HIT workout - but there will be two more like it in the coming weeks. I kinda messed up my count (the same as the Mass situation), so the contest takes priority and I'll stick it out for another couple of weeks. It's a wicked workout set, so it's not the end of the world for me!

Heading to 22 Wing with Pierre. Might finally get him to give up his Goodlife classes and invest that energy where it will make the most difference!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Progress update!

I've uploaded a new pic to the Progress Pictures and Reports page. I'm shocked, but not surprised. THT WORKS. It's that simple.

I'll try and get some more full-body shots up that show my legs, lats, traps, maybe front/back flexed arms. It's nuts how much I've gained in a year and a half, nevermind the last seven months.

Two more weeks of THT HIT and then on to THT 2.0.

Mark, I know you might get the chance to read this blog when you're not going crazy doing everything else. THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mark's hard work means that all of us have a great chance to improve ourselves. The least we can do is support him back in return - and also, pay it forward. That's why I'm running my contest, that's why I take the time to tell folks about and that's why I'll do what I can to give back to the MH community.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Do as I say, not as I did

Uhm, whoops. Did a full Total Anabolism 3.1 HIT workout last night ("Wednesday") and when I was done, I just happened to scroll to the top of the Excel worksheet on my Blackberry. It then promptly informed me that I was on a "Wednesday" for HIT Mass cycle (good) and that it was now the end of Week 10 (doh!).

Normally, Mark structures the Total Anabolism workouts to last 10 weeks. Among other things, this helps to ensure that you don't get bored so that you're lifting intensely and in a positive mindset. I'm going to add on 2 weeks just because I don't want to switch up the content that the contest winners do. Mentally, it just seems easier to me to not switch cycles until after the contest is done at the end of the month.

Speaking of next cycle, here are some exercises I can't wait for: kneeling cable crunches, standing calf raises, incline dumbell press, incline dumbell curls! You might think, "Why doesn't he just start with some now?"

The answer to that question is because I like to keep it simple. I only do the work prescribed in the routine, except on HIT Consolidation days where if I have lots of kick left I'll target some isolations in areas where I want to develop more. I started that test with my calves, and lately I've targeted my chest, biceps and triceps. All seem to have responded well and it hasn't affected my progression in any measureable way negatively.

But, back on topic (finally). You should always pay attention to what's going on with your training, literally and metaphorically speaking. Had I been paying more attention to the column headers, I would have realized earlier on that this was my last HIT week. You might argue that a Blackberry isn't the easiest thing to manage a well laid-out Excel sheet with. It works just fine. I just wasn't paying attention.

This almost seems like a silly topic to write, but the underlying message is important - pay attentiont to what's in front of you, to the task at hand and to your goals - both short- and long-term!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Week #2's second winner gets a HIT workout!

So... I dragged Tony up to the 22 Wing gym tonight and gave him a pretty decent HIT cycle workout. I was a little more intense with him as he's currently on Week 6 of his THT Volume cycle. I could already tell that he was in MUCH better shape than the last time that I saw him.

He powered through his MuscleHack workout like a champ on all fronts - even on the exercises that he had just done the day before (in body part type). I was impressed! Even though it was my recovery day I did a few of this and that, mostly at lower weights, to show him the functional part of each workout as it pertains to HIT as a cycle.

We then finished hard as both he and I did a complete set of full-on trap shrugs. If there's one exercise I never tire of doing, it's trap shrugs. :D Nothing triggers muscle growth like trap shrugs for that "peaked", effortless muscular shoulder.

So, back at it again tomorrow after work for Mass Day #2 this week. And, I'll get to have a nice pork roast supper with my babe as my reward. :)

Now, if only the weather would make up its mind - January, or April. Pick one.

Another great HIT cycle workout!

Chris came up last night to 22 Wing for a full-on HIT cycle Mass day. He didn't shy away, either! I think he was really surprised with some of the weight he could move.

It's like I explained to him last night: the world fears (and oftentimes shuns) what it doesn't understand. If you're "ripped" and in shape, then to a lot of people there's automatically something wrong with you that's making you work out to that level - whatever that level is.

If you want to better yourself for just about any reason, that should be good enough for "the world". If you're tired of being out of shape, work out and eat better! Your body and your mind will thank you for it! If this "elevates" you above most folks, don't sweat it. Instead, try to educate them as to why you're doing it. You might even win a few over and get them moving!

But - back to the weights! The shoulder re-invention day seemed to go well. I set a starting point again and I'll work on progressing on Thursday. Everything else is coming up nicely. WIde-grip pulldowns are kicking my ass of late, but I figure that's for the best. If I have to work THAT hard to move that weight, it's gotta be good for me. :)

So, an off night for me but a coaching session with Tony (last Sunday's second winner). He has a major leg up as he's currently doing THT Volume as his introduction to MuscleHack. However, a HIT day is  an all-in-one day vs. doing a Volume single body part day. He's gonna feel it after this one. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Draw #2 - winners announced!

Congrats to Tony Lefevbre and Chris Rowe,  the winners of draw #2! Each week's winners get their drop-in fees paid for by me, as well as a full MuscleHack HIT cycle Mass workout day! This workout is not geared so much to full-blown growth, but more of a walk-through to teach them how to perform the exercises correctly and to ensure that they're using proper form. Once they're on their way, they can determine their proper "starting weights" for a true THT workout - rep to failure within 8-12 reps!

Just a reminder, you can still sign up for this contest if you live in the North Bay, ON area - just hit this note and send me a message or leave a comment indicating that you want to be entered into the contest! Draw #3 is next Sunday, before 7PM, where one winner will be picked.

Also,  be sure to check out the MuscleHack Fan Page to get the latest news and info from THT's creator, Mark McManus!

A quick note - while this contest is supported in notion by Mark, it is NOT run by him in any way. I have his permission to use the material from his free e-book, Total Anabolism 3.1, as I pay it forward and help others learn to MuscleHack. I'm not charging for my time or services, I'm simply helping others learn how to get in shape and build lean muscle mass. That's it.

Until next time, MuscleHackers!


Friday, January 14, 2011

A contest - reposted from Facebook

Here's the deal. I'll pick up to 4 people, at random, from a list of those who contact me and ask to be entered into the draw.

Once a week, I'll take one winner up for a workout at 22 Wing's Health and Wellness Center (gym) in North Bay, ON, and pay their drop-in fees for the day. We'll work through an entire MuscleHack "HIT" cycle workout; for your first time, I won't hit you with annywhere near the same intensity I do unless you're already fairly fit and willing. Otherwise, it'll be 2 sets per exercise at a lower weight than I'd normally recommend for familiarization's sake.

All I ask of you in return is the following:
  • Check out Mark McManus's website -
  • If you're interested in the workout after checking out his website, register for his free e-book, Total Anabolism 3.1, and start reading through it.I'd also recommend "liking" the MuscleHack page here on FB as well - lots of candid discussions there, including Mark's input!
  • If you're still interested in the chance to get in a full MuscleHack workout, either comment on this note or send me a message through FB.
Each week, I'll pick one person at random from "the list" - those who have expressed interest. If you're not picked the first week, you're still in it for weeks 2, 3 and 4. I'm hoping to have enough interest from all of you so that I can make my pick on Sunday evening and notify the winner then. Ideally, all picks will be on Sunday nights. We can then decide what night works for each person and hit the gym then.

Lastly, the quasi-legal mumbo jumbo:
  • I am not a certified personal trainer. I will show you exactly how to do each exercise as I would always do them; all exercises can be done without the need for barbell-based free plate weights so as to maintain a level of safety that "new" workout folk wouldn't have otherwise. If the fact that I'm not a CPT is a problem for you, and I understand completely if it is, please do NOT enter.
  • This is NOT a business endeavour of mine. I'm not selling you my services as a trainer. I'll answer any questions you have and if I can't give you a meaningful answer, I'll likely direct you to the MuscleHack fan page. :) I just want to see people become healthier by their own devices and if I can help them get there, that's great!
  • I will NOT be in the process of hard-selling Mark's for-pay training products to you. My blunt opinion is that all of his e-books are worth having, both the free and the for-pay ones. I have Total Six-Pack Abs, and it's a great program. Mark seriously knows his stuff. We'll be working from the free e-book material at the gym, and I won't leave you hanging on how to do things properly.
  • Only one session per winner (where I pay the drop-in fees). The nice thing is that 22 Wing lets you drop in as often as you want and it's cheap ($6.50 for the day, and I believe that includes pool access). I'm more than happy to work out with anyone that wants a partner for a MuscleHack workout - if you want to drop-in or if you have a 22 Wing membership, let me know!
  • This is me "paying it forward", as I said I would as one of my New Year's resolutions. This is a friendly "contest" being run by me, not by Mark, solely for the purpose of trying to help get people moving and motivated.
As for the outside-of-North Bay folk, I'm not sure what to do honestly. There's no real way for me to help someone train unless it's remotely via Live Messenger or something like that, which is awkward when at the gym. I'll think about it and see if I can come up with something.

I think that covers everything. If you have any questions, ask away below or fire me a message.

UPDATE - our first winnner, Jeff  Davis, attended 22 Wing CFB's gym with us on Monday,  January 10th. He had a blast and has since returned on the 13th. I'd say he's hooked already! Next draw is this Sunday, January 16th.

You can't get there from here

It's entertaining how I can think about everything I've done, how I've personally changed since I've really started working out consistently.

I went back through my old emails and my oldest email from is date June, 2009. I remember reading a lot of the content on the site before actually downloading the free e-book. I remember thinking to myself, "That's not a lot of working out. I'm a skinny guy as it is. Is this really going to work?".

Well, I can emphatically state that it does work. The volume-style cycles work for me, and the HIT-style cycles work for me without a shadow of a doubt. This confession leads me back to the present-day and my first curveball - I've hit my first honest plateau since starting out with Mark's collected wisdom.

To be honest, it's the one area of myself that does not surprise me as being the "culprit" for plateauing - my shoulders. I've even tested this theory over the last two weeks by split-setting and try to "push through" to get my progression for each workout. So, my overhead press will be dropped by about 10-20 lbs as I look at what it takes to kick-start myself there.

Here's the thing - I'm going to smash my way out of it! I'll run with the lower weight for the next week. I'll then kick back up to where I was as of last night, do 4 reps and then go back to my lower weight and see if that was enough to progress at that lower weight. If so, carry on. If not, re-evaluate again.

This little event is weght training in a bubble - personal adaptation comes to the fore time and again. We all want constant gains when gaining muscle mass. Most of us will enjoy that most of the time. In reality, you won't get it ALL of the time. And by all of the time I mean 100% flat-out. Right now I'm at a 99.5% success rate (to simplfy it a bit). I'm more than happy with that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Post!

So, I came up with the brilliant idea of taking Mark McManus's advice and starting a blog about my MuscleHack journey.

Let's see, where to begin. Ah, yes. The "beginning", as it were.

High school, 1994-ish. My Grade 12 year. 6'3" and about 155-ish pounds. Evntually got myself to a stunning 165lbs by the end of the school year. As a classic ectomorph, gaining muscle with the rampant metabolism of a teenager was nigh-impossible. I would slag away in the gym for hours each week, but the only real muscle I built was in my legs. This was ironically due to not only my gym time but my time spent bicycling all over Toronto. I'd do 30-40kms a day without breaking much of a sweat by the time I was 18.

My attempts at gaining mass after high-school were marginally successful - a steady diet of fast food, beer, pop and other unsavoury ideas got me to about 185lbs. The only reason I stopped there was my biking (of which I did less now that I had a full license) and my devotion to playing ice and ball hockey with my friends. This kept me going until I was 21 and I then moved to Northern Ontario.

Here, I spent a couple of years doing almost nothing - no weights, no biking, no real hockey. Then, I finally got off my ass and went back to school - and got back into the gym. At my heaviest, I was just over 200 lbs. I was fairly strong, but I was spending way too much time at the gym and cardio was killing my muscle gains (although I didn't know that just yet). I then proceded to decline quite steadily in health after graduation, even though I landed a great job in my field (still at the same company - almost 9 years now!). I stopped working out (again), no hockey, no biking. Notice a trend yet? Over the next 6 years I would cycle in and out of gym memberships / efforts until about 3 months before my 30th birthday. I had had enough! Enough, I said!

Hmm, right then. Off to the gym with you! The first 6 months in, I make lots of gains (and losses). I "cut" down to about 175lbs via agressive cardio, weight lifting (still killing growth, unbeknownst to myself!) and radically changing my eating habits.This lasts 6 months. Hockey lasts longer (finally playing ball hockey again - this with co-workers now, had done so sparingly over the years at work) but 1.5 years into this "chapter" I realize that I'm a cyclical animal, I'm an idiot, I must be doing soemthing wrong and I need to change myself.

So, to address the last four points directly: yes, yes, yes and hell yes.

Everything from this point on references my previous-to-now gains, tribulations, deliberations and aggravations (few, thankfully) as I decided to take a new approach on myself and weight lifting and started following Mark McManus's workouts.

Some final words - I've gotten to know Mark some over the last year and a half. Seriously. Even though he's in Ireland and I'm in Canada, he's very approachable and a credit to his profession. He stands behind his methods and his words, and he also backs them up with not only independent research - he lives the life he tells us about as well. He is the original MuscleHacker.

I will tell you one thing: his e-books DO work. All of them.. You just need to commit yourself to fulfilling the plans he has put in place for you. I'm just detailing my experience with his Total Anabolism 3.1book. It works. Flat out. I'm in the best shape of my life at 33. I look better than I did at 23 by far, or anywhere in between. I DO recommend that you go to and read up on his offerings for yourself. You could do far, far worse by yourself than spending a few minutes reading about a terrific way to change your life. It changed mine.