It’s extreme. I get it. “Can I gain 20 pounds of lean muscle in just 90 days?”
When the idea struck, I’ll admit, I hadn’t quite thought it through. I didn’t know how hard it would be. I didn’t know what it entailed. And, when I told a friend about the idea, they thought it was pretty ridiculous, and told me, “Blake, that is physically impossible.” He told me there is no way I could do it.
I have always been up for a challenge to prove “impossible” wrong.
Of course, in the past, I’ve completed some pretty crazy challenges—from competing in my first Olympic Triathlon to climbing Mt. Whitney, to doing a Tough Mudder in Beaver Creek, Colorado. But, these things are simple tests of tenacity.
Declaring publicly that I was going to gain 20 pounds of lean muscle in 90 days (all naturally!), well, that challenges the laws of nature.
I don’t have an advantage in this challenge. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a big guy. I haven’t spent a lot of time pushing weights. And, I’m not a big eater. At the pace I’m used to running everyday, eating is something I often, quite frankly, forget to do.
And, I’ve got a fast metabolism. So, when I saw what I’d have to do to make this challenge a reality, I knew I would have to completely rearrange some habits to stand a chance at succeeding.
What’s It Gonna Take?
1. Heavy Lifting: So, it’s not as if I’m afraid of working out. I knew I’d need to put the work in. But, I also wasn’t just going to go hit the gym blindly and hope for the best. After all, I’m a strategist by nature. So I did my homework, and after researching all kinds of muscle-building programs, I decided to follow a philosophy called Occam’s Protocol.
Basically, it required 45 minutes in the gym, twice a week, lifting heavy weights, at a slower pace (each repletion was performed with a 5-second count up and a 5-second count down), to point of failure. Only working out twice a week, for 45 minutes, sounds pretty simple right? Yea, I thought the same thing. Until my first workout ended with me completely blacking out on the gym lobby floor—literally.
Talk about the old cliché of getting back up when you get knocked down! Check out this embarrassment → Passing Out on the Lobby Floor
2. Food: If I thought the workout was hard, I was in for a big surprise. For me, the hardest part of this (by far!) was the diet—200 to 300 grams of protein every day. That’s 3 high-protein meals a day, 2-3 Body by Vi Shakes per day, and a 2-3 forced-snacking sessions in between each meal. Basically, I used the ViSalus Fit Kit, ate a lot of Nutri-Cookies, and added the ViPak every AM and PM.
Remember, this is all for a guy who had never made eating a priority. And, add to that, during my 90 Day Challenge, I was on the road for 45 of those days (in 22 cities and 4 different countries). Honestly, it may sound funny, but I think this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done—the eating, I mean.
3. Prioritizing: The weight was heavy. Eating mass quantities of food is difficult. Making both of these a priority in my busy schedule had to become the focus.
As with conquering any challenge in life, success boils down to making your goal, and all the steps necessary to achieve that goal, an absolute priority.
It amazes me how many people I meet who still haven’t made their personal goals a priority in their life. As many have heard me say:
“You can live your life by your own design, or by default. Default rarely works in your favor.”
Were There Immediate Results?
Yes, I started building muscle in the first couple weeks. But, be prepared to stick with your plan. I actually began going backwards (losing weight!) just a few weeks into the Challenge—and in a 90 Day Challenge, that wasn’t good.
I got frustrated for a minute. But setbacks are bound to happen. Stay focused on the goal. Stick to your strategy, and never quit. I just kept thinking, “This is possible.”
Plus, all the support I was getting from those who I had told about my challenge really fueled me to keep going.
HOW TO NAIL YOUR CHALLENGE
1. Get A Pain Factor
I’ve written about this elsewhere on the blog, but I wanted to include it here as well.
Anytime you enter a challenge, your intentional outcome should be success. And, although nice words and support can fuel your desire, sometimes your biggest motivators can come in rare forms.
Here’s some helpful words from my friend Hulk Hogan. “You set your goal,” he said. “Now if you don’t get there, we need to attach a pain factor.”
If I didn’t gain more than 20 pounds of lean muscle mass in 90 days, Hulk and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake were going to shave my head! And, yes, this deal was sealed with a handshake.
Sometimes adding a layer of serious accountability is what it takes to keep you on track. And no I’m not making this up. Here is how the conversation went → Hulk Hogan is going to shave my head?
2. Go Public With Your Challenge Goal
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “It’s amazing what happens when you go public with your Challenge Goal.” Tell the world what you’re going to do. Show them along the way what you’re doing. Don’t wait until you’re done.
Show the world your journey—because big challenges are completed one step at a time. It’s a daily process. This is almost as critical as the diet and exercise. Going public elicits people’s support, energy, and feedback. It fuels you every single day and there’s nothing more powerful than positive feedback.
3. Celebrate Your Results
My 90 Day Challenge Results
Day 1: 131 pounds (110 lean muscle mass)
Day 90: 153 pounds (133 lean muscle mass)
Final Result: 23lbs of Lean Muscle
Chest: +5 inches
Quads: +1.5 inches
Biceps: +1.25 inches
Flex Baby, Flex!
Figured I worked so hard to put on the weight, might as well get some good photos! I’m pretty used to being in front of a camera by now, but not with my shirt off!
I asked my friend Lindsay Messina, a nationally recognized fitness model and a top Body by Vi Challenge Promoter to help me out with a shoot. Let me know what you think!
4. Love the Haters!
Of course, there’s always going to be haters and naysayers out there. They’ll tell you, you can’t. They’ll call you crazy. They’ll say it’s not possible. They’ll say all these negative things because, deep down, they don’t believe they could do it.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t.
At the end of the day it comes down to belief. Will you believe what the haters tell you, or what you tell yourself? I believe everyone needs a hater or two—they’re valuable.
They come into your life to test you.
They’re the people that can become your “action motivator” on the days you want to give up.
They’re the people you can look forward to knowing after you’ve completed your challenge, because without ever saying a word, you’ll know, that they know, “It is possible.”
And, to that friend of mine who said, “Gaining 20 pounds of lean muscle in 90 days was physically impossible,” Well, then, I guess, “I defy physics.”
THE FULL STRATEGY
• Protein: 1.8 grams of protein per pound of desired body weight, per day. So, if you wanted to weigh 200 pounds, you’d be eating:
200 x 1.8 = 360 grams per day.
• Meals: 3 protein-focused meals per day. Try and eat clean, otherwise you may gain unwanted weight. I ate a few servings of Oatmeal in the morning mixed with 2 scoops of ViShake (really good!). For my other meals…chicken, chicken, chicken, and more chicken. Warning, you are going to be sick of chicken after this ☺.
• ViSalus Fit Kit + ViPak: 2-3 Body by Vi Shakes per day. Typically in the morning, always right after a workout, and right before bed. Add a third scoop or blend in some egg whites if you are having a hard time getting in all your protein. Nutra Cookies for healthy protein snacks. Go/Pro when you need an energy boost. ViPak in the AM/PM.
• Snacks: 2-3 Protein-focused snacks per day. I pretty much stuck to NutriCookies and nuts.
For more on my Diet Strategy, watch this video!
Schedule: Weight/Resistance training focused on every large muscle group twice a week (Chest/Triceps, Back/Biceps, Legs).
Occam’s Protocol: 1 Set, 5/0/5 Tempos, to Failure = ten seconds per rep. (Five seconds up, and 5 seconds down. Go slowwwwwww.)
Process: Start with the largest muscles first, then circuit towards smaller muscles.
Intensity: Weight must be heavy enough so that you reach muscle failure somewhere between 8 and 10 reps.
• Free-motion Squat: 185+ lbs. Reps to failure.
• Prone Leg Curl: 70+ lbs. Reps to failure.
• Lat Pulldown: 155+ lbs. Reps to failure.
• Incline Bench Press: 75 lbs. Reps to failure.
• Barbell Shoulder Press: 65 lbs. Reps to failure.
• Bicep Curl: 55 lbs. Reps to failure.
• Tricep Skull-Crushers: 55 lbs. Reps to failure.
• Cable Reverse Flies: 20+ lbs. Reps to failure.
Repeat from the top. Start with 1 set. Once conditioned, add a second (or even third) set of each circuit. However, building up to two sets are enough for most people.
Note: Examples of each exercise can be found quite easily by using Google.
You can watch my first workout here. Promise you won’t laugh when I black out!
Recovery, and especially sleep, are critical to muscle growth. Our bodies release most growth hormones during the first three hours of sleep. Do not over train.
Stick to two workouts per week, and NO CARDIO, otherwise you will end up burning the muscle you are trying to build. Nutrient timing is important, but it becomes a non-issue if you are drinking ViShakes and eating as much protein as needed in a frequent fashion.
Training to muscle FAILURE is the key to rapid muscle gain. You don’t train ’till you quit. You push ’till you can’t. Big difference. And, if you want to get big, you need to go big.
Keep me posted on your progress → www.facebook.com/blakemallen.page