Not too long ago, I was chatting with a guy who was frustrated with his progress in the gym (trying to put on some mass) and mentioned to me that he dropped $150 at his local GNC on supplements the prior day. Upon asking him what he bought, he had no idea and couldn’t even remember the names or what the supplements were used for! Basically he walked into GNC and became an instant “BFF” with the sales clerk. For those out of the loop, “BFF” stands for Best Friends Forever. A “BFF” is someone whom you can always count on for support and who will always be there for a good ol’ fashioned tickle fight. I mean, don’t you watch MTV? Yeah, me neither.
Anyways this particular guy felt that because he wasn’t making any progress, he needed to buy supplements. We sat down for a few minutes to really delve into the issue. Upon ending our conversation we came up with the following facts:
1. He was training between 1.5-2 hours per day, six days per week; 60-90 minutes of weight training along with 30 minutes of cardio. For someone who has always had a hard time putting on weight (let alone quality mass), this would be the exact OPPOSITE approach I would take. In a nutshell, ectomorphic body-types (those who have a hard time putting on weight) would do better with LESS training volume. In his case I would cut total training down to three full-body training sessions per week (maybe four days with an upper/lower split) and cut out the excess cardio completely.
2. I asked him how many calories he was taking in per day. He had no clue. HUGE mistake! How is one supposed to make progress if he/she has no idea what or how much they’re eating? I asked him to break down an average day for me and we came to the conclusion that he was ingesting roughly 1500-1700 kcals per day (or barely enough calories to keep an Olsen Twin alive). It never ceases to amaze me how people will drastically UNDER-eat for their goals. You can’t build an impressive physique through sweat alone. You need to provide the raw nutrients the body needs to grow. Point. Blank. Period.
3. On an aside with the points made above, I’ll always come across guys in the same situation who mention to me, “there is no way I can eat 3000-4000 calories per day, I just can’t do it.” Well, if you’re the type of person who only eats two or three meals per day, then yes, you won’t be able to do it. There aren’t many people out there (outside of Rosie O’Donnell, oh snap) who can polish off two or three 1000-1500 calorie meals per day. What one needs to do is eat more often and spread their calories out over six to eight meals per day. If someone’s goal is to ingest 3000 calories per day, it’s a lot less daunting (not to mention much more manageable) to ingest six, 500 calorie meals than it is three, 1000 calorie meals.
Long story short, this gentleman did NOT need to go out and splurge on $150 worth of supplements. He just needed a swift kick in the pants and some guidance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Supplements are progress ENHANCERS, not progress STARTERS. If you’re not making any progress (whatever your goal may be) with your training and/or diet alone, then buying enough supplements to start your own Olympic team isn’t going to cut it.