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Muscle-Building Workout and Diet


What’s up guys? Sean Nalewanyj. SeanNal.com. RealScienceAthletics.com with a Q&A video
here … something I haven’t done in quite a long time where I’ll be answering some of
your fitness questions from over on my Instagram. If you’re not following me on Instagram yet,
it’s at Sean_Nalewanyj. I post there pretty much every single day
with a variety of different tips and updates that I think you’ll find really useful. And if you do have any questions, you can
go ahead and post them there and I’ll do my best to help out in a future Q&A video. So let’s get into it. There are 10 questions here. I’ll timestamp them in the description box. This Q&A will just be part one. And I’ll do a part two, and hopefully a part
three, and so on in the coming weeks and months. All right. So, question number one. “I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how
a calorie surplus isn’t actually necessary for building muscle as long as you’re consuming
enough protein. What are your thoughts on this? Can I eat at maintenance and still make gains?” So I think the important distinction to make
here is that just because you can gain muscle without eating a surplus doesn’t necessarily
mean that you can gain muscle optimally. So if you’re a complete beginner, or you’re
overweight, or both, then you can definitely make decent muscle gains eating at maintenance
or even in a deficit throughout the initial stages of your program. But if your primary goal is to fully maximize
muscle growth with a focus bulking phase, and you’re within a healthy body fat range
right now as is … so around the mid teens or lower, then you need to be eating in a
calorie surplus if you want to achieve the very best results. You’ll make more significant size and strength
gains. You’ll recover more effectively in between
workouts. And about 200 to 300 calories above maintenance
per day is a good figure to shoot for. Next question. “What do you consider to be the ideal weekly
training split for someone whose primary goal is hypertrophy?” So this is kind of a tricky question to answer
because there isn’t really one absolute best workout split across the board. It really depends on the individual based
on their experience level, their goals, their genetics, their personal preferences, things
like that. I’d say by far the most important thing beyond
the exact training split that you use is just that your total weekly volume and frequency
is landing within the right range for each individual muscle group. And I’d put that at somewhere between about
eight to 15 total working sets per week for large muscle groups, and around four to eight
sets for smaller muscle groups. You’ll hear differing volume recommendations
depending on who you talk to, but that’s a pretty solid range to aim for in most cases. And then when it comes to frequency, it could
be anywhere between one to three times per week in terms of directly hitting each muscle. And I think the middle area of that range
will be best in most cases, so about one and a half to two times per week. Okay? As long as you’re landing within those volume
and frequency ranges, you’re training within a couple of reps of failure on the bulk of
your sets, and your achieving progressive overload over time, then the specific split
that you use is definitely still a factor but it’s going to be less important overall. And as a basic default recommendation and
what I lay out in my body transformation blueprint program is either a full body routine done
three days per week, an upper/lower split three to four days per week, or legs/push/pull
four to five days per week. There are a lot of different ways that you
can go about this, but it’s pretty hard to go wrong with any one of those three approaches. All right. “I’m 165 pounds at 5 foot 10 and wanting to
put on some mass. What’s the best way to calculate my daily
maintenance calories? Every calculator that I use seems to give
me a different figure.” Yeah, that’s normal and it’s because all calorie
calculators are really just rough estimations. There’s no way to know for sure at the outset
what any one given person’s true maintenance calories are because they’re just too many
different factors that are involved. So you basically just go with an educated
guess at the start, you implement it, you see how your body weight changes, and then
you adjust your calories from there until you’re falling into the proper weight gain
or weight loss range for bulking or cutting depending on what your goal is. One really simple method that you can use
for estimating maintenance calories, assuming that your weight has been relatively stable
in the last few weeks, is to just manually add up all the calories that you normally
eat over the course of a few days or a week. And then find the daily average and use that
to start. If that’s not practical, then you can use
a preset calculator, and I’ll list a few methods in the description box that you can choose
from. Okay. Question number four. “What are your thoughts on strict form focusing
mainly on the mind-muscle connection versus looser, more explosive form and just getting
the weight from point A to point B?” I would say that for the most part, the best
approach falls somewhere in between the two extremes. So not lifting like a robot and trying to
be 100% perfect with every tiny little movement, but also not ego lifting and swinging the
weight around using a bunch of momentum and sloppy form. I’d say to choose a way that still feels decently
heavy for you relative to the reference that you’re using, and training with good solid
form and technique but while still allowing yourself to move naturally throughout the
exercise and not being overly rigid. My general advice would be to perform the
concentric portion of the reps. So the lifting phase … do that portion with
maximum force and maximum speed, but while still staying in complete control of the weight
and actively thinking about the muscle that you’re trying to target during the set. And then for the negative, lower the weight
for anywhere from a two to four second count. You don’t need to perform super slow negatives,
but I do think there is some value in actively resisting the weight on the way down rather
than just letting gravity do all the work. Going with a middle ground approach like this
will still give you the muscle building benefits of using a reasonably heavy weight, but while
also allowing you to fully activate the targeted muscle you’re trying to train, and also minimizing
your risk for injury at the same time. Okay, next question … a supplementation
one. “Why doesn’t your PureForm pre-workout contain
beta alanine? I thought beta alanine was a standard ingredient
in most pre-workouts.” There’s a couple of reasons for this. First off, beta alanine is not actually a
true pre-workout ingredient because it doesn’t have any direct immediate effects on performance
when you take it right before training. Instead, beta alanine is what you would consider
a daily ingredient. So it’s something that you take on a consistent
basis. And that gradually builds up the levels of
carnosine within your muscles, and then from there the performance benefit is always going
to be available anytime you go to train. The specific timing really doesn’t matter. And this same thing applies to creatine as
well even though most pre-workouts out there also contain creatine. Beta alanine does give you that tingling sensation
on your skin after you consume it, but this is just from nerve endings firing beneath
your skin. Even though some people do enjoy the feeling,
it doesn’t actually give you any added performance benefit. And then aside from this, the effects of beta
alanine just aren’t that impressive to begin with. It’s only gonna benefit you and improve your
strength during longer duration sets that lasts 60 seconds or more … which if you
go ahead and time it out, that would be a pretty high rep set. Probably a minimum of 15 reps up to about
30 reps per set depending on how fast you’re going. And even then, it’s only gonna boost your
performance by a few percent. So with PureForm, I wanted to create a true
pre-workout with ingredients that give you an immediate boost, and strength, and focus
right after you take them. And to just focus on a few core research backed
ingredients that give you the most bang for your buck rather than watering it down with
a huge list of ingredients that you don’t even need to be paying for. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback
on this formula. And you can check it out by clicking up here
or by using the link in the description box if you’re interested. Okay, next question. “How to improve willpower? I sometimes have issues with skipping workouts
or falling off track with my diet here and there and I feel like I just need to be more
disciplined sometimes.” Yeah. I mean, the simple and obvious answer here
is to just go ahead and do what needs to be done regardless of whether you feel like it
or not. You’re not always going to feel motivated. Sometimes you’ll feel demotivated. But if you are always relying purely on motivation
to get you through things, then ultimately you’re going to fall off track in the long
run. And a lot of the time, even if you don’t feel
like training or you don’t feel like staying on course with your nutrition on a given day,
but you just push forward and start taking right action anyway … a lot of the time
that little initial action will automatically cause your motivation levels to rise and then
the actual task itself becomes a lot easier once you get into it. That’s kind of the easy answer. But the other thing I’d say as well is that
you can only really force yourself to do things for so long before you eventually start burning
out. The other thing to look at is how you’ve structured
your actual program, and to make sure that you’re using a reasonable practical approach
that you can actually sustain over the long term. A lot of people out there end up falling for
bad fitness advice, and they’re forcing themselves on to some overly restrictive diet with a
bunch of weird rules that have to be followed every single day, or some excessively high
volume workout plan where they’re in the gym six days a week doing both weights and cardio
every single session. If your program essentially feels like torture
all the time, then you’re ultimately doing it wrong because it really shouldn’t feel
that way. You’re not going to be able to maintain it
over the long term if it does feel that way. I’m not saying that things are going to be
easy all the time, but it is perfectly possible to set up an effective training and an effective
nutrition plan that gets you to where you want to go and that is enjoyable overall once
you’ve settled into it. Or at least that you feel fairly neutral toward. A moderate calorie surplus or deficit, a good
balanced diet that doesn’t heavily restrict anything and that still includes some of your
favorite treat foods in moderation, three to four weight training workouts per week
for an hour or so, two to three cardio sessions mixed in. Fitness doesn’t have to be an all-consuming
process. And I’ve got tons of videos on this channel,
content on my Instagram, articles on my blog that discuss how to do this properly. And one final point to keep in mind is that
the longer you’ve been at this, the more and more routine it becomes. So if you’re still a beginner, sometimes you
just need to really buckle down and put in the initial work. And trust that over time it’s going to get
easier, and that it is going to become more automatic, and a more ingrained habit that
you don’t have to think too much about. Okay. Moving on. “In your experience, has building a good physique
helped when it comes to attracting women?” There are actually a lot of different angles
to this specific question, so I’ll just try my best to sum it up. I would say that all in all, yes. Being in what would be considered impressive
shape will improve your success with women in the overall scheme. But a lot of it does depend on the specific
girl. Okay? The truth is that some women out there really
don’t care that much about how aesthetic your physique is, or they potentially don’t care
at all. And then on the other hand there are other
girls who are really into it, and who are attracted to guys who train seriously, and
who are in really good physical shape. Usually those girls are also the ones who
are really into fitness themselves. It does depend on the person. And then also keep in mind that different
women have different body type preferences, too. For example, if you have that really thick
muscular bodybuilder look, some will actually be turned off by it whereas others will be
really into it. And then if you have the lean aesthetic look,
some will also be more or less into that specific look. You can’t please everybody. But I would say that yeah, if you do have
a physique that stands out in some way, then for the group of women who are specifically
attracted to that look … it is gonna help out with them. And I only say help out because there are
so many other factors that are involved in attraction. You know, facial features, personality, height,
status, et cetera. So your physique is really just one factor. All in all, I’d honestly say that it’s probably
one of the less important factors. It still counts, but it’s just one small piece
of the overall equation. The most important thing physique-wise is
to just make sure that you’re at a healthy body fat level. That’s the most basic, most fundamental thing
to take care of. If you’re overweight and then you get yourself
down into a leaner range, that is the one thing that’s going to have the biggest impact
percentage-wise on improving your success with women on the physical side of things. Because your facial attractiveness will improve,
and you’ll just look fitter, and be perceived as healthier in general. Bottom line, yes. Work on all aspects of yourself. Your physique is one of those things, but
don’t expect to get jacked and then just have women falling all over you because it really
doesn’t work that way in reality. Okay, next question. A pretty simple one. “What’s the best time of day to take protein
powder?” Keep in mind that protein powder is ultimately
just a food product. It’s convenient because of the powdered form
that it’s in and because it has a lot of protein packed into a small volume. But it doesn’t have any special muscle building
benefits beyond a chicken breast or a piece of fish. You can just take it at any time of day when
it’s most convenient for you. It’s entirely a matter of personal preference. Morning, pre-workout, post-workout, in the
evening … whatever you want. And a lot of people have been asking me about
it. And yes, Real Science Athletics will have
a protein powder available down the line but probably not until later this year or early
next year. Question number nine. “Do you have any tips for improving vascularity? I noticed in your pictures you have very prominent
veins and I want to achieve a similar look.” Honestly, a big component of vascularity really
is genetic. I’ve always just been a really veiny person
in general, even as a young kid before I started lifting. You can definitely improve your vascularity,
but I would say only up to a certain point. Really, it just comes down to building more
muscle so that there’s more tightness between the veins and the skin, lowering your body
fat percentage down so that the veins are more visible, and also minimizing subcutaneous
water retention because that will make your veins show more clearly. And a few tips for that are increasing your
water intake throughout the day so that your body flushes out the excess water retention
that it’s holding. Keeping your sodium intake consistent. And also increasing your consumption of potassium
rich foods, so that your sodium and potassium intake are roughly equal. Those things will all increase your vascularity
to some extent. But again, a big part of it does just come
down to genetics. Okay, last question for today. “I’ve been cutting for 12 weeks now. Went from 190 pounds down to 172 at roughly
16% body fat. I want to lean down a bit further, but I’ve
been stuck at this weight for almost three weeks and I can’t seem to push through. Any ideas?” Yeah. The answer here is pretty simple, and it’s
just that you’re no longer in a calorie deficit. Keep in mind that the same calorie intake
that gets you from, say, 22% body fat down to 16% is not going to be the same intake
that gets you from 16% down to 12%. And that’s because as you stay in a calorie
deficit over time, your resting metabolic rate decreases from certain hormonal changes
that are made to conserve energy. And you also burn fewer calories through net
because your body naturally reduces its movement throughout the day, again, to conserve calories. If your body weight was consistently going
down but now it’s clearly plateaued, then it’s usually just a matter of lowering your
calorie intake slightly … about 100 to 150 calories less per day. That’s a good start. Or the other thing you can do is increase
your activity level, either through regular traditional cardio or by just making a conscious
effort to get more movement in throughout the day. For example, incorporating regular walks. That’s one good option that can help out with
this. The other thing you can do is a combination
of both. So reducing your calorie intake slightly,
and then also increasing your activity level slightly. There are some situations where for some people
who have been really aggressively dieting over a prolonged period where actually increasing
calories can be helpful in order to kind of reset things and re-elevate their metabolism
before going back into a deficit. But those situations are pretty rare, and
for most people … in most cases where they’re just doing a standard cutting phase and who
are still within a healthy body fat range, it’s really just a matter of eating a bit
less and/or moving a bit more in order to make sure that they’re staying in a net deficit
to promote further fat loss. And also keep in mind that fat loss does get
more difficult the leaner you’re trying to get. Once you get down to a body fat percentage
around the mid teens for men and the mid twenties or so for women, getting those last few percent
off to reach that lower range does require more discipline and it does require stricter
tracking overall. There you have it, guys. Ten of your questions answered. Thanks for watching the video. If you did find this Q&A helpful and you enjoy
this straight ahead, no-nonsense approach to fitness and you want to learn the exact
step-by-step methods that I recommend using in order to build muscle and lose fat as efficiently
as possible, then make sure to take my physique quiz over at Quiz.SeanNal.com because that’ll
get you started on the proper training and the proper nutrition plan that you need based
on your individual goals of body type and experience level. You can click up here to get started with
that or use the link in the description box below. When it comes to proper supplementation, you
can also visit RealScienceAthletics.com to check out my no BS science based formulas
that I personally created to help improve the convenience of your program and fully
optimize your overall results. Link is also in the description. As always, make sure to hit that like button,
leave a comment down below, and subscribe if you haven’t already in order to stay up
to date on future videos. Thanks for watching guys, and I’ll see you
in the next one.

57 thoughts on “Fitness Q&A #1 (Best Training Split, Vascularity, Female Attraction, Beta Alanine)

  1. Thanks for watching, and if you have any other fitness questions you'd like answered then make sure to follow on Instagram and post them there: https://www.instagram.com/sean_nalewanyj

    See you in the next video.

  2. Remember that you need to start you mesocycle (6-8 week training period) at LOW end of the volume recommendation and work your way up each week and reset at deload

  3. Hey Sean. Would appreciate in the next Q&A if you make a second address full body workouts. I really enjoyed 5×5 stronglifts & wanted to hear how this older style of training compares with new scientific data we have today. Brad Shoenfeld has a lot of new data and I find it interesting.

  4. hey sean great vid as usual,,no fluff and bs,,question about your pre workout wich id like to purchase,,,are you shipping worlwide??? peace

  5. Hi Sean. My major problem is sticking to a workout for a long time. After a 5-6 weeks into a program, i get bored of it and feel like i need to change something. I always want to keep changing the exercises. How do i go about this?

  6. Sir i have a neck injury
    and in my city we don't have a physiotherapist.. Should i rest or keep on training? It's really causing problems on my training…Please help….
    Sorry for my English

  7. Also in regard to vascularity, Sean has said that he tends to record his videos right after workouts. So he's probably got a little bit of pump going on, keep that in mind.

  8. Some make fitness channels too gaudy, I donโ€™t want to see how you approach the gym, how you finish your protein, or how you tie shoes…yours is simple and on point.

  9. Nobody asked that beta alanine question lol he just threw it in there for a little product placement, it's ok tho considering all the free info he gives

  10. You've been my go-to for all things fitness since I found your "Truth About Building Muscle" in 2010 which got me the best results ever. I've followed others as well, but when they sold out or got too gimmicky, I could count on finding no-bs stuff here. Definitely deserving of more subs. Keep up the good work, Sean.

  11. Sean counting calories isn't too hard but trying to find out how many calories you burn per day is impossible. that's why trying to stay in calorie surplus or deficit is so tricky.

  12. Beginners to the fitness world dont know how good they have it with all the free information thats available.good video ๐Ÿ’ชโœŒ

  13. This Q&A Is a REAL BANGER!! Lots of good, solid, foundational information Sean, definitely MORE OF THIS, PALEEEESE!! Thank you!

  14. Liked before even watching. You know what you are getting with Sean….Quality! Great to see the frequency of uploads.

  15. How do u find the time 2 do that many sets. I go to failure 3 to 4 sets 3 days a week..mind to muscle and form can u please do vid on that..and any advice on shoulder pain. And if some stretches are hurting us more or helping us more to help with sever shoulder pain. Awesome vid like always!!!

  16. Apart from having the most elegant speeches at the discursive level in the YouTube fitness community, you deliver the most straight forward, sensible and helpful advices that an online coach could ever give. Congrats for your hard work!

  17. HOLO SEAN DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? I THOUGHT YOUR AGING PROGRAM WAS HUMOROUS. I'M SURE A LOT OF CANADIANS WISH YOU COULD DELETE JUSTIN "HAIR" TREDEAU FROM OFFICE. RARRRRRGH RAPTORS GLORY. BRING BACK THE YOGA CANDLES AND BECAUSE YOUR PROGRAM IS 1/10 NATIVE AMERICAN, DO U INDULGE IN PEYOTE WHEN DEADLIFTING OR DO U IMAGINE U ARE. GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR FOR AN A.I. PROGRAM U KNOW U CAN GENERATE A MARGOT ROBBIE TWIN CHEERLEADER TEAM TO KEEP U COMPANY. RAPTORS GLORY, RARRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!

  18. Yes, the lower one's bodyfat level becomes, the more challenging it becomes to lower it more. The dedication needed to keep dropping sub-ten percent is really tough, and to reach, say, six percent or lower will leave a lifter feeling quite physically depleted, and often times mentally exhausted. This is because the body is in a slow state of starvation, attempting to survive what us crazy bodybuilders are doing to it, and no one thrives while starving. After my physique shows years ago, where the dieting the final couple of weeks was extreme, a group of us would hit a restaurant immediately thereafter, and man, did it ever feel great to pig-out on a couple of dinners (also impressed the waitress who could not believe I could eat two full dinners). The body was screaming for calories by that time after the competition, and there was no better feeling than to finally give in to the need to EAT … and keep on eating, haha. Interestingly, I discovered that I would sometimes look better the next evening AFTER the show then I did on stage (it's counter-intuitive, but it seemed real to me).

  19. Awesome! I love when knowledgeable fitness channels do Q&As. So much information in one video. It tends to be what I gravitate toward.

  20. The days I don't feel like going to the gym, they turn out to be some of my best workouts. I walk out feeling better than when I walked in.

  21. PureForm really is very good. No nervous excitement, improved focus and a bit better endurance as well. Keep up the good work, Sean. Greetings from Spain

  22. Others out there gain subscribers by telling people what they want to hear, over promising, or just twisting the truth to sound โ€œvaluableโ€. Sean speaks Truth in a very sincere way.

  23. All facts, no fiction, no bull. You know what you're talking about and you don't treat your subscribers like children. You set the standard, Sean.

  24. Can you do another video about transitioning from bulking to cutting been on a bulk for a couple months and going to cut when the school year starts… Awesome videos!

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