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Gooooaaaallllll. Oh wait. Not soccer. My bad. But, still: goals. Goals are important.

Without goals, The Wizard of Oz = Dorothy, Aunt Em, and Toto picking boogers out of their noses. Not fun. But add the goal: getting to the Land of Oz. /gasm

Goals are the first thing you have to define. What do you want to be? Have? Capabilities?

Construction worker: get rid of chronic back pain, get lean. New father: build muscle, strength train in a time efficient way, maybe even from home. First year college student: sleep around without getting STDs.

You know, the usual.

Goals are the guide.

But goals are absofuckinglutely childish. We should rename goals for what they really are: wants.

I want a bicycle. I just want a bicycle! Whatever, make me a bicycle, clown!

Even a five year old has goals. Wanting is easy. I want a lot of stuff.

I want one million dollars. An infinite supply of peanut butter. I want to drink the finest milk stouts in the world. To deadlift 600 pounds and move like a ghost cat.

I got lots of goals.

So what?

ah –

The problem with goals. They tell you where you want to go, but they don’t tell how to get there.

Goal are Pluto. Far away. Something you want reach in the future.

  • I want to lose fat
  • I want to build muscle
  • I want to trick like Rasmus Ott
  • I want to be as mobile as Hunter Cook
  • I want to not be such a socially awkward nerd

Go ahead. List yours. You won’t. But it’s one of those things I’m supposed to tell you to do anyway.

Now bring things closer to home.

Jupiter: what behaviors do you need to adopt in order to (eventually) reach Pluto?

I want to lose fat, so the behaviors are…

  • Drink no calorie beverages.
  • Eat a rich source of protein at every feeding.
  • Replace 50% of my starch intake with vegetables.

If you don’t know the behavioral root(s) of your goal, then you’re not in the Milky Way. (Buy Big Win Fat Loss. I like money.)

But, good news…

Even if you’re selecting bass ackwards out-of-this-galaxy behaviors, it doesn’t matter (for now).

  • Eliminate all carbohydrates.
  • Avoid fatty foods.
  • Go jogging every day


/bad list

(but it doesn’t matter)


Don’t forget via negativa when selecting behaviors.

I’ll eat more vegetables! I’ll train more! I’ll start eating this superfood! I’ll take this supplement!

Maybe you’re better off ~

I’ll stop eating the entire jar of peanut butter at night. I’ll stop drinking sodas all day. I’ll stop in the name of love before you break my heart.


Got your list? Didn’t think so. Just pretend. It’s cool. I’m not judging. (I’m so judging.)

I’m guessing your list is full of behaviors based on the RESULT(S) you expect them to yield.

Go to the gym “x” times per week and do “y” routine because this is the best way I know of to build muscle.

But here’s the deal…

This series is about Getting Shit Done, meaning you struggle Getting Shit Done. So you’ve either tried to adopt a behavior in the past and failed, or you haven’t even mustered the magic to start doing the behavior.

Go to the gym “x” times per week and do “y” routine might be the best way you know of to build muscle, but it doesn’t jive with your psyche. Else you wouldn’t struggle Getting Shit Done.


If you struggle Getting Shit Done, there’s (probably) pain, risk, or negative emotions associated with either (a) the act of doing whatever behavior[s] you need to do, or (b) the potential outcome[s] of said behavior[s].

“pain” “risk” “negative”

Could be actual physical pain. Like delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). But it doesn’t have to be.

Maybe it’s the time you have to invest in the behavior(s). Maybe it’s that the things you’re eliminating (beer, cake, chips, cookies) make you happy. Maybe it’s that you’re a newbie in the gym and you don’t know how to use the equipment, which is an awkward situation (unless you have Z2B).

Maybe it’s that you’re afraid of how your friends or spouse will perceive the changes you want to make, the fear of judgement and criticism.

These are all “pains.”

wel wel wel welllllcccommeeeeee to where it all starts. Behaviors you need to start doing, but can’t. You can’t not (double negatives yo) because you actually can’t, but, rather, because you’re choosing behaviors that are too far beyond your comfort zone.

Remember, Simba

Your software that programs for risk aversion. So when faced with

  • (a) Easier, safer, comforting thing
  • (b) Harder, risky, discomforting thing

it’s so much easier to pick (a). And sit on the couch. And watch TV. And eat cake, chips, and cookies. And corrode into comfort.

The behaviors you’re trying to adopt are akin to walking into a lion’s den. They’re risky and uncomfortable.

perception > reality

You can’t have any pain or punishment associated with a desired behavior you want to adopt. Well. Maybe you can. But it’ll be more difficult.

Closer to home. (again)

Break the behavior(s) down even more to reduce pain, risk, negative emotions associated with them.

Don’t select behaviors assuming you’re going to bring your A game to the table every single day. THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE. /skywalker


Select behaviors you can handle even when your F game shows up; I’m talking about behaviors that are almost impossible to fail.

There’s a word I love: skosh. It means small or a little amount.

Think about skosh stepping stones that’ll build into Jupiter behaviors.

Let’s say you’re trying to lose fat. You read BWFL. You know how to lose fat (you’re in the Milky Way). But you always fail when trying to change because you don’t like vegetables.

Instead of trying to eat a bowl of vegetables the size of your head every day, maybe you just take one bite of a carrot at lunch.

Let’s say you’re trying to get more mobile. You got through Z2B and want to improve your squat. But you can’t find the gusto to hang out (and work on) the bottom squat position for five minutes every day.

Maybe you start with: hold the bottom of a squat for 15 seconds right before I go to bed.

Or maybe you’ve struggled to take 60 minute walks every day. Maybe you start with: do ten jumping jacks at 7PM every day.

You want skosh behaviors to seem meh and not ugh. Ugh is bad. Ugh is, “I’ll flake.” Meh is just the right amount of apathy to be helpful.

There’s a bit of the Goldilocks paradox at play here. There’s an ideal soup temperature. When the soup is too cold, it’s not very motivating. Too hot, same.

why would i lick a carrot? what’s that going to do?

The sweet spot: that productive, uncomfortable terrain located just beyond our current abilities, where our reach exceeds our grasp. Deep practice is not simply about struggling; it’s about seeking a particular struggle, which involves a cycle of distinct actions.”

Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code

But I know you’re going to read this and probably overshoot and land in the lion’s den. It’s best to be conservative: choose F game behaviors that are almost impossible to fail.


I what you’re thinking.

I came all this way for this idiot to tell me to start small. Or skosh. Whatever. I wish I could punch him right in his skosh nads. 

Why would I do things that won’t help my progress? Why eat a bite of a carrot every day? Would it really help me? Only ten jumping jacks? That’s not going to help me lose fat.

And, if you weren’t thinking this, now you are. (I AM A GREAT PSYCHOLOGICAL WIZARD.) I have you right where I want you.

But, for now, make some skosh stepping stones for behaviors you (eventually) want to build. You won’t. But, again, it’s one of those things I’m supposed to tell you to do anyway.

You’ll build the best physique of your life eating only one meal per day.

If someone told me this in 2010, I wouldn’t have believed them. I couldn’t have believed them. All the mainstream diet wisdom floating through the ether…



…how could it be possible?

But I should have believed them.

Sometimes I eat two meals per day. Most days I eat one meal per day.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes once more: I strength train on an empty stomach; I play ultimate frisbee on an empty stomach.

I haven’t eaten many breakfasts since January 2011. Unless, of course, it’s breakfast for dinner — my favorite.

Not saying you have to (or should) follow in my footsteps. Results aren’t guaranteed. Sanity is also subject to seesaw.

But I’m here to give you everything I can to help you decide whether or not intermittent fasting is right for you.


I know how to get lean. But muscle mass is elusive. Every bulk I’ve done = disaster. This one = no different. I’m 232 pounds of bad news.

It’s 2009. I’m an intern. Doing a bunch of strength and conditioning work with the University of Pittsburgh. Current stint is with Buddy Morris and James Smith.

I read an article online. Some Swedish guy that’s all ripped and jacked talking nutrition. I want to be ripped and jacked. I read.

The Swedish guy tells me I can’t eat breakfast. What? Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I wake up at 4:30AM just to cook breakfast.

I stop reading.

This event is a footnote in my life until 2011.

I go to a cheer gym to trick. I feel especially spry. I set up for a trick known as a 720 double. I own this trick.

My takeoff was wrong. I bail. No biggie. Bailing a 720 double is harmless. It’s like bailing a vertical jump.

But I jump too high high high thanks to feeling spry spry spry. The leg I am supposed to land on misses the ground. Then this happens.

Great toe avulsion fracture. Fractures in every metatarsal but my third. Cast and crutches for eight weeks.

I crutch around all day to teach. Broken foot swells. Ugh. Getting up to pee is a chore. I dream about a hole in the couch cushion that’s connected to the commode. (I Googled the word “commode” and found out that it doesn’t inherently mean “toilet,” which is what I always thought it meant. I would change it, but I’m a sucker for alliteration.)

Cooking breakfast? Ha! No. Never. This is when I remember the Swedish guy. I Gewghoul. His name is Martin Berkhan. He runs a website called Leangains. I read all about Leangains

Martin Berkhan pops my intermittent fasting cherry.


Leangains is one intermittent fasting strategy out of many, albeit (perhaps) the most popular in the body composition world. In order to clear this up I’m going to go broad before I go narrow — a decision that’ll prove to be semantically futile, which is exactly why it needs done.

Look at teh Gewghoul definitions of each word.

Intermittent: occurring at irregular intervals; not continuous or steady.

Fast: abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.

Fasting is all about avoidance, with the pinnacle being no food and no drink for a certain period of time. This is Ramadan during the day. This is the most clear way to define fasting: no soup for you; you get nothing.

(absolutes are fun)

Most intermittent fasting plans aren’t Soup Nazi strict. Leangains allows zero calorie beverages like water, coffee, and tea. Ori Hofmekler (often considered the grandfather of intermittent fasting) even allows some foods.

(Told you this wouldn’t be easy.)

The word “fast” is too ambiguous. I stop eating Doritos and say I’m fasting from Doritos. Started my fast yesterday bruh, no orange fingers for me anymore. 

Add the ambiguity of the word “fasting” with the ambiguity of the word “intermittent” and here’s the child that squeezes out from between the legs: intermittent fasting is the sporadic avoidance of food or drink.

That’s about all you can deduce, Sherlock. Sometimes I don’t eat or drink certain things.

Saying “I do intermittent fasting” is like saying “I play a sport.” It says something, but not much. (Especially if you consider bowling and darts to be sport.)

So don’t be one of those goobers that says, “I started intermittent fasting and I have a couple of questions…” You have to be more specific, okay? MORE SPECIFIC <<<!>>>


(did i prove my point? capitalized words always win.)

Intermittent fasting is a feeding framework based around purposeful and sporadic elimination. That’s all. Okay. Good. Got it?

If you want to get more specific, you have to be talking about a specific intermittent fasting strategy.


I’m not here to talk about Jebus and religious fasting, so I’m taking a leap and connecting intermittent fasting dots to fitness dots.

What’s all the hubbub? Does intermittent fasting have magical properties that help you look good naked?


But, first, a superficial look: intermittent fasting can reduce your calorie intake and be a breath of behavioral fresh air.

Think of most diets. Change this. Adjust that. Avoid this. Add that. It’s behavioral suicide. Flip every food variable you’ve been used to since forever upside down. No big deal. One of the reasons most diets fail :::: behavior change is hard.

Now imagine this:

I want you to skip breakfast on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Make no other adjustments. Don’t compensate and eat more the night before. Don’t compensate and eat more during your lunch after. Just wake up and don’t eat breakfast on those three days.

(Not saying this is the incarnation of most intermittent fasting schemes [or any one specific one].)

Suddenly you’re cutting a chunk of energy you’re used to gobbling up and all you have to do is become anorexic and not eat go without breakfast a few times per week.



For the past ten years, the dominant belief system within fitness: you need to eat smaller, more frequent meals to “stoke the metabolic fire” and keep your metabolism running high.

Smaller frequent meals requires some lifestyle adjustments.

You have to prepare your food in advanced. Not many people can cook six different times in one day.

You have to think about different kinds of meals, unless you have (or build) a palate that allows you to eat the same thing for multiple meals every day.

>>>> I have said numb palate. I built it. People are sissies when it comes to changing their palate. Am I being too nice here? ANGER. Probably not. I think the people “naturally” lean are those that actually listen to their palate and don’t self-sabotage themselves with mindless eating. (For more on mindless eating, see this. I talk about mindless eating and the effects of nutrients and flavor on satiety inside of this, if you want to take the dive.) <<<<

You have to transport your food. You need Tupperware.

It was a lot of work.

But what if you didn’t have to eat six meals? What if eating two or three meals had the same effect as eating six meals?

You no longer have to prepare meals as if the apocalypse were upon civilization. You don’t have to turn into Emeril Lagasse to keep your palate happy. You don’t have to strap Tupperware to your body like a suicide bomber.

Intermittent fasting lends itself to behavioral, cognitive, and lifestyle ease. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to eating nineteen meals.

The pendulum has swung. Pendulum swings tend to sway the masses.


Most people try intermittent fasting for reasons more complicated than “it’s a lot easier to skip a meal a few times a week than it is to change my entire life” which isn’t surprising, and not just because intermittent fasting seems like Anorexia Lite.

Humans like to complicate. I complicate. Make me sound smart. Please. All I want is sound smart. All I want to do is become a cog in the same system I’m revolting against. Sponsor me. Photoshoots. All I want is

I don’t care about anything.

Most intermittent fasting strategies look to achieve what’s known as the “fasted state.”

You technically begin fasting the moment you stop eating or drinking whatever you’re fasting from (deep dish chocolate chop cookie sundae), but you won’t hit a fasted state until much later.

Intermittent Fasting Deep Dish Cookie Sundae

Consider the fasted state to be the point where all of your food is digested and your body is forced to use it’s own stash of internal materials (like body fat) to keep you ticking and tocking.

The fasted state opposes the fed state, the latter being when your body is undergoing digestion and processing food. The fed state (and the proceeding post-absorptive state that I’m conveniently glancing over in order to avoid barraging you with unnecessary photons) lasts around 12 hours.

This is why most intermittent fasting plans have a “fasting window” that starts at 12 hours and work their way to 16, 20, and 24+ hours.

Opposing the fasting window is the “feeding window.” If your fasting window is 12 hours, your feeding window is 12 hours. Because, this.

intermittent fasting windows

Leangains is often referred to as 16/8 intermittent fasting because the fasting window lasts for 16 hours and the feeding window lasts for 8 hours.

When these windows occur within the day aren’t always set in stone. An 8 hour feeding window can be from 10AM to 6PM or from 1PM to 9PM, but the specific window itself is held consistent on a day-to-day basis.

leangains intermittent fasting windows

Days per week can also vary. Some people use intermittent fasting every single day. Others use it a few times per week.


The fasted state is fat loss magic from a mile high view. Your body uses fat to fuel low intensity activities. When you’re done digesting and absorbing food, you’re using mostly body fat to fuel low intensity body movements.

Also, extended fasts kick you into a state of ketosis. Your brain’s primary fuel source (liver glycogen) gets used up and your brain is forced to use ketones (from the breakdown of body fat) for fuel.


Most intermittent fasting plans won’t have you swimming in the deep waters of ketosis (fasting window isn’t long enough), but KNOWLEDGE IS POWAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

(i have the power)

OH WOWWW THE FASTED STATE IS MAGICAL WOW YES YES YES>!eqewfwe (did i just subconsciously write “queef” in there somehow…?)


What the body does one second can be undone not long after. You can fast for a day, use up some body fat, and then put back everything you lost (and more) in the day(s) to follow.

It’s like going to the casino and gambling away $500 in cash. You lost money in the short-term. But if you stay at the casino and win $700, then you’re up $200 and in a surplus in the long-term.

This is why intermittent fasting is a vehicle, not a direction. It can take you anywhere you want to go. It doesn’t inherently determine a location.

You can lose fat with intermittent fasting. You can build muscle with intermittent fasting. You can lose fat and build muscle at the same time with intermittent fasting.



You can do all of these things without intermittent fasting, too. (Especially if you take steroids!)

Intermittent fasting sounds pretty shitty right now. Behavioral, cognitive, lifestyle benefits. The damn pendulum pushing around the mindless masses? Is that really what this is all about?


One intermittent fasting strategy is known as Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF). Time-Restricted Feeding’s dad is Dr. Satchin Panda.

Yes, Time-Restricted Feeding is all capitalized. Yes, there’s a hyphen in the middle of “Time” and “Restricted” (for god knows what reason). Maybe Mr. Panda wanted his strategy to be totally Internet unfriendly.

Yes, I want my last name to be Panda.

Time-Restricted Feeding uses a 9-12 hour feeding window, which applies to anything but water. If you have a coffee, your feeding clock has begun. Time-Restricted Feeding is more on the Soup Nazi side of restriction.

The logic behind Time-Restricted Feeding = humans are diurnal creatures, and our body evolved to work with the natural rise and fall of the sun. EVERYTHING THE LIGHT TOUCHES IS OURS, SIMBA.

Every organ inside of us has its own clock. I’m now deleting the sixteen paragraphs I wrote about Time-Restricted Feeding because this isn’t about dissecting any one specific intermittent fasting strategy.


Panda’s research shows that mice undergoing Time-Restricted Feeding show a decrease fat mass and increase muscle mass regardless of what food is being eaten.

In other words, you eat ice cream, pizza, and, of course, your fish oil capsules. Because fish oil without the fish itself has to be a good idea, right guys? Reductionism is always reliable within the biological interface.

In our universe, eat all of this in a 9 hour span. In a parallel universe, you eat all of this in a 14 hour span.

You’ll be leaner and more muscular in our universe.


The reason why this happens isn’t quite understood. (Phenomenon > Phenomenology) If nothing else, it begins to debunk prevailing bodybuilder logic of muscles melting away if not fed every three hours.

Did you hear that Mickey? You don’t have to parade around Disney Land looking like schlub anymore. Just condense your feeding window, man. Minnie will love your new bod.

Panda has data showing similar results in humans, but the mechanism is even less clear. Mice tend to eat the same amount regardless of feeding window length. Humans eat around 20% less if they condense their intake to the 9-12 hour window.


In Mindless Eating, Dr. Brian Wansink says that humans can eat 20% more or 20% less without knowing. Funny how the number pops up in two different (but related) situations.



There are more studies, including a “Leangains study.” You can read the findings here. You have the bread crumbs.

More human research will decide whether intermittent fasting is magical or mythical. The same thing that can be said for 99% of the things we already apply to our bodies. Anti-bacterial soap was pulled from the shelves, guys.

The (honest) empirical evidence is all I need. It has worked for me. It has worked for Berkhan (apparently). It has worked for many others.

No one can deny the physiological and metabolic shift that happens when you fast. The question is: what kind of an impact does it really have?


Fasting makes some people wet their willy in worry, but fasting has been around for a while. I referenced Ramadan earlier. Fasting is common in a lot of religions. It’s also common in, uhhh, you. Right now. Intermittent fasting is built into your biology.

For 6-9 hours (or however long you sleep), you don’t eat or drink anything. That’s where breakfast gets its name: you eat in the morning and break your fast.

Old school folks recommended fasting when sick. Not saying we should take medical advice from BC era or anything, but they might have been onto something.

Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work.  The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.  Our food should be our medicine.  Our medicine should be our food.  But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.


Instead of using medicine, rather, fast a day.


Some research ties fasting with (a) longevity and (b) cancer.

bow chicka wow wow

wee ooh wim o weh

I don’t have the testicles to say intermittent fasting will help you live longer and prevent cancer. Rats aren’t humans. I don’t want you to find me and kill me if you get cancer.

I guess I don’t need to worry if you try intermittent fasting and subsequently die (from an unrelated cause), so I should be more vehement about intermittent fasting’s benefit to longevity.

I do, however, have the testicles to speculate why intermittent fasting may be beneficial for cancer and is definitely beneficial for longevity.

The process of breaking down and digesting food is stressful. It’s like giving Peter Gibbons a stack of TPS reports to file at the office.


If Gibbons is constantly filing papers, he can’t step back and take care of non-work related functions. He can’t clean his increasingly messy desk, he has to work late, which means he sleeps later, which means he wakes up groggy…


What is intermittent fasting? The sporadic avoidance of food or beverage.

Why is intermittent fasting special? It’s easier to manage from a behavior, cognitive, and lifestyle perspective. It (somehow) seems to make rats jacked. It might help cancer. It most absolutely certainly definitely will help you live longer.

Maybe now you’re compelled by the mountain of aforementioned research on mice and all two of the humans I’ve mentioned (one of which being myself, surely free from any and all biases) that have lost fat and built muscle using intermittent fasting.

(Or maybe you just broke your foot and can’t cook.)

You want to give it a go.

Do I recommend intermittent fasting? Maybe. There are some things you should know before you start intermittent fasting.

(Another article coming soon to follow up.)

Got patellar tendonitis? Jumper’s knee (patellar tendonosis)? How about patellar mistracking? Chondromalacia? Or maybe your knees are just always in pain for reasons you don’t quite know yet?

I’m going to tell you two things you should know if you’re an athlete with chronic knee pain, but let’s start with a story.

You have a friend named Kong. Kong likes touching hot things. Don’t ask me why. That’s just Kong. He’s a weird guy.

You’re a good friend. You don’t want Kong to burn himself, so you get rid of every potentially hot thing in his house.

Kong lives happily ever after, right?


Not really. Because Kong is limited to a fabricated world. If he ever returns to the real world, he’s gonna’ get burned.

Meaning it’s possible to live pain free in a fabricated world without really being healed. Avoiding the root of the problem ≠ fixing the problem at hand.

The root of Kong’s problem is his wacky tendency to touch hot things, not necessarily the pain he experiences as a result of his strange behavior.

Pain is just a single piece to a much larger puzzle. 

So here you are.

You can’t run. You can’t jump. You can’t squat. Even standing up from the toilet makes you wince. Your knees are in shambles.

And there you are. In bed. Waiting for a miracle. Waiting for the physiology gnomes to tap your knee with a magical star wand.

Because, well, that’s everyone recommends. Rest. Rest. Rest some more. Rest. Rest. Rest. Rest. Rest. 

But “rest” is the cheap answer.

You can avoid the sports and activities you love and feel OK, but when you go back to them…? You get burned.

Most rehab theories are based on an arbitrary concept of being damaged one day, resting for a little bit, then being magically healed overnight.

This is true and false at the same time. Your body is amazing. It can heal itself. But as long as you still have the behaviors that forced the damage, you’re going to continually breakdown.

This is the Kong paradox.

You can eliminate the pain (feel healthy) without fixing the root of pain.

And if you continually ignore the root of the pain? Your short-term inflammation (knee pain, tendonitis) turns into long-term tissue degeneration (jumper’s knee, tendonosis).

Make no mistake: pain isn’t hardcore or manly. It’s not natural. Pain is a sign that something is wrong. 

The first thing you need to know is this: rest isn’t going to permanently fix your knee pain. You have to fix the root of your problem, and the root is (not surprisingly) the second thing you need to know.

You can’t make the following mistake in logic:

Thinking your knee is the thing that’s broken because the knee itself is the thing in pain.

Take a look at the pictures below. I cropped them out of some random YouTube videos.

Vertical Jump An Athlete's Guide to Chronic Knee Pain

Both of these guys are doing vertical jumps. The guy on the left claims a 30″ vertical jump. The guy on the right, 50″. (Which is very high, so let’s just say 40″ to account for internet inflation.) Honestly, the output doesn’t matter much.

Aside from the raw numbers, there’s a difference between the two:

I consider one a knee pain candidate, and the other a knee pain conqueror.

Below are more still shots from YouTube, but with NFL combine athletes (a little less random than, well, random YouTubers).

Vertical Jump An Athlete's Guide to Chronic Knee Pain

Notice how their body positions are more similar to the guy on the right in the first picture? It’s no coincidence. (Rule 39: There is no such thing as coincidence.)

Now, you might be wondering, “I see the difference, but what the heck does this got to do with chronic knee pain?”

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. You’ve heard that saying before, right? Makes sense. But if you focus on the fire, you arsonist running out of the back door and breaking for the woods.

Chronic knee pain is a global phenomenon, so you have to zoom out and see beyond the knee itself.

But before I do that, I want to tell you how I know all of this.


One of the questions I’m asked most: do your knees still make that noise? And I get asked this because back in 2009 I put a video on YouTube of my snapping, crackling, and popping knees.

I was Googling for answers. I was posting on forums. I had just about every chronic knee pain possible. Tendonitis. Jumper’s knee. Tracking problems.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to smile and say, “And I haven’t had an knee problems since I’ve found this magical cream!”

But that’s not true…I still struggle with knee pain because I ignored my initial tendonitis. I thought I could fight through the pain.

Pshhhh. Ain’t nothing gonna’ stop me from playing my sports and lifting. I’ll get through this pain. Yeahhh. Only the weak care about pain.

And then my tendonitis turned into tendonosis. In other words, my short-term inflammation became long-term tissue degeneration.

If you love your sports and activities, the goal is simple: keep playing. That’s why you play through pain. But when you play through pain you cause long term problems that put you out of the game.

If your goal is to continue your activities, it’s your responsibility to maintain your vehicle.

The kicker in my story? It wasn’t like I totally ignored my pain.

I followed most highly touted advice, like resting, popping pain pills, and icing. One doctor even told me that my knees would never be quite “right” ever again.

I’ve wasted over $100 in medical fees and supplies in less than one year just trying to feel somewhat healthy. That’s not mentioning the braces, creams, and supplements.

I even tried to train my way out of my pain with leg extensions and leg curls. If you’re in as deep as I was, you’ve probably also done your fair share of terminal knee extensions.

All of these things made my knee worse.

Nothing worked.


I started to treat the knee as a victim, not a culprit.

Your leg is made up of a ton of muscles and is controlled by three main joints: the hip, the knee, and the ankle. Anytime you move, force flows through these three joints. Up the chain, down the chain. The knee is the middle man.

So picture an assembly line. Three guys. You’re the middle guy. What happens when the guy to your right stops working? All his load gets thrown onto you. What happens when the guy to the left stops working? All the work you’re trying to do piles back up onto you. \

There’s one equation you gotta’ remember. (Even if you hate math.)

Hips + Feet = Knees

And it just so happens that athletic ability follows a similar equation.

Hips + Feet = Athleticism

Remember those pictures from above? The body positioning? Stud athletes have similar body positions during exercises because they drive movement from similar muscles and structures. And those muscles and structures are also key in chronic knee pain.

If you have pain squatting (back squatting, front squatting, any kind of squatting), running, or jumping, you need to learn how to move more athletically.

This doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen. You have to retrain your body. And this is what An Athlete’s Guide to Chronic Knee Pain is all about: a program designed to fix chronic knee pain that delivers a pleasant athletic side effect.

An Athlete's Guide to Chronic Knee Pain

An Athlete’s Guide to Chronic Knee Pain is actually two programs smashed together.

The first is Theories and Solutions for Patellar Tendonitis, Jumper’s Knee, and Patellar Tracking Problems. It digs deeper into the relationship between the ankle, knee, and hip.

There is an eight week foundation program that builds muscle activation patterns and mobility with a specific selection of movements.

The goal is to kick muscles and movement patterns into gear that’ve long since been sleeping, and then build a ton of endurance to be able to maintain ability in those muscles forever and ever, no matter how fatigued you are.

The second is Increasing Strength and Explosiveness Through Barbell Exercises, Leaps, and Bounds. It transitions the newly found endurance and activation patterns into barbell exercise and athletic movement.

It builds positional awareness and correct activation patterns within those positions. It also teaches you how to absorb and propel force within those same positions. This second program is full of linked up videos to help you learn.

Both of these programs are crammed together. No dual fee. No leg extensions. No leg curls. No bed rest. Just a seriously comprehensive reconstruction of athletic and pain free lower body movement from the sand to the sky. 180 pages filled with information, pictures (exercises, stretches), and videos.

And some more bullet points because bullet points are cool:

  • It promotes lifelong change so that there is no regression in the rehabilitation
  • It constructs athletic movement so that your knees not only get better but your foundation for athleticism is enhanced
  • It includes a safe progression of exercises with little necessary equipment so you can do the training anywhere
  • It cures chronic knee pain so you can run amok, jump around like a wildebeest, or squat like a maniac
  • It relieves you of the mental anguish of being constantly down and out because of your chronic knee pain
  • It’s great for prehabilitation because it reworks movement to put less pressure on the knee=

Considering I bought Super Smash Brother WiiU for just about double the price of An Athlete’s Guide to Chronic Knee Pain, I’d call it a game of priorities.

An Athlete's Guide to Chronic Knee Pain


(P.S. You’ve spent more on video games or on a night out at the bar.)

Purchase An Athlete's Guide to Chronic Knee Pain

So consider what your knees are worth to you. Seriously. Think about it. What does your knee let you do that you love doing? How does it feel not being able to do it?

When I was unable to move and trick and lift, I lost myself. Don’t lose yourself. Give your knees the care they need so that you can do whatever makes you feel alive. So that you can do the things you love doing — the things that form your identity as a person.

That expensive treadmill is nice…if you’re healthy enough to use it. That monthly gym membership? Those kettlebells and barbell you just bought? All nice. But only if you can use them.

Worried about online scum?

Don’t worry, you’re protected under my No Ass-to-Risk Guarantee. My No Ass-to-Risk Guarantee is in place to prevent you from being misled or mistreated from online business malpractice. Everything that others choose to hide within asterisks at the bottom of pages are stated below, in addition to who exactly this product isn’t for. It’s all in an effort to better serve you.

First, An Athlete’s Guide to Chronic Knee Pain  is a digital product. You buy, you download instantly. The file is readable by Adobe or any other PDF reader. No shipping fees, so you save some bucks.

Second, your satisfaction is my guarantee. You may return this product if it doesn’t meet your expectations. Anytime. Anyplace. Even if my retailers refund period has expired (my retailer is ClickBank and they have a 60 day refund policy), I’ll handle it in house.

Third, An Athlete’s Guide to Chronic Knee Pain is for those with chronic knee problems (tendonitis, tendonosis, tracking issues), that want a better understanding of how chronic knee problems are created, that are willing to work hard to conquer their pain, looking to learn how to put less stress.

It’s not for those with serious internal injuries (ligament damage, meniscus injuries), those not ready to put in time and effort to fix their problem, and those that aren’t ready to do progressive bodyweight exercises.

Fourth, you have to be ready to work. This program is demanding. I’m not here to baby you. I’m here to fix you, and there’s a hard dose of reality with this. You’ve been moving the wrong way for a long time. You have to hit this hard to fix it.

Fifth, in regard to typical results, I always give the same disclaimer with any digital product: one of two things will happen when you buy my products.

  1. You buy it and never use it. You might even return it. Can’t help you if you don’t put into practice what’s inside.
  2. You’ll get it, follow through with the plan, learn something new about yourself, and see the resultant knowledge shine through with improvements in your body or life.

But don’t listen to me. I think I’ve talked enough anyway.

Here are what other people say.

an athlete's guide to chronic knee pain testimonial

Jon Call (Jujimufu), Trickster

jujimufu athlete knee pain

When I developed a knee tendinopathy by tricking, I spent the next two years googling for crumbs on anything I could find on the topic and experimenting with self therapy. Anytime I’d find something I’d wonder if it was really applicable to my own situation. Much later, I felt I had gathered something likening to puzzle pieces, and was able to put these together to see a puzzle image take form. While I can make out the image of knee problems more clearly today, Anthony’s eBook is the finished puzzle with a clear image formed. I hate him for having finished this puzzle after I had suffered my own knee problems! But I will forgive him, because I learned some really neat, and new knee tips in this book I didn’t know, and haven’t seen elsewhere!

an athlete's guide to chronic knee pain testimonial

an athlete's guide to chronic knee pain testimonial

Rasmus Ott, Trickster

Rasmus Ott Chronic Knee Pain Testimonial

Me and Anthony did some video correspondence about my jumpers knee and he gave me a lot of good exercises and stretching techniques. He provided a great push forward to having no major problems and these days I’m back to tricking on my left knee with no big problems. (Picture provided by: Nanna Ward.)

an athlete's guide to chronic knee pain testimonial

an athlete's guide to chronic knee pain testimonial

an athlete's guide to chronic knee pain testimonial

Simon Jacobsson

Simon Chronic Knee Pain Testimonial

The orthopedist probably would have recommended another surgery. But without Anthony I would still be a lost little puppy just trying lots of things with half assed effort. Getting consultation from him (who I sincerely believe in and really look up to when it comes to this) really motivated me. Contacting him was the smartest thing I’ve done for my training!

Josh Beaty

I played college hoops at a small college and never had any injuries until I turned 30. I started having knee tracking issues 3 years ago after I got an athletic pubalgia injury while playing flag football. That was a very painful injury to my groin area. After that “healed” (resumed activity to early) I started getting pretty serious knee pain while playing basketball due to compensating from the hip injury. I had lost control of my hip and my knee was making up the difference. I also have a very significant anterior pelvic tilt which contributed to both injuries I’m sure.

Anyway, because of your info I am able to play basketball again pain-free and my knee has drastically improved. This knee tracking pain had been nagging me for over a year and it was very frustrating. I am not quite 100% yet in terms of strength and confidence but will get there. My goal is to completely eliminate discomfort and doubt in the knee and eventually dunk a basketball again.

Thanks so much. I have bought a lot of fitness and nutrition crap and your stuff is legit and truly improved my life.

Park Firebaugh

I tweeted that I loved your book before I had even finished it. Today, I viewed all the videos, completed it and I am stunned at how comprehensive and exhaustive this is. I can’t believe the knowledge you have at your age. You have covered every angle there is and intercepted all manner of backsliding and “executive decision” modifications that many will try to make. I would think it would have taken many years of observing personal sabotage to acquire this foresight. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I remember looking at your photo on T Nation and thinking, “What the fuck, he’s just a kid” However, it’s obvious from the methodical thought process and well crafted writing that you are wise beyond your years.

Jahed Momand

I just finished your book. I was having patellar tendon pain EVERY TIME I stood up from a chair. I’m now extending the hips similar to the way you described in your RDL chapter, and the pain has disappeared. I’m already impressed. Now to translate this to Olympic weightlifting…

Vaughan Carder

Just wanted to say the Athletes guide to chronic knee pain is an AWESOME resource & a must for anyone with legs! Can’t wait to implement this stuff to my own rehab of some banged up legs!


Questions, Answers

Q: Is this program for a beginner?

A: Yes, it can be used by someone that has no formal training. I will say that a background in barbell training is useful to pick up on the terminology, but it’s not life or death requirement.

Q: Is there an age requirement?

A: No, absolutely NONE. All exercises begin at bodyweight and are progressed in a sequence. There is NO heavy loading in the initial program, and the second book (that has heavy loading) is optional. The book, however, is written for athletes — so keep that in mind.

Q: How long is the program?

A: It lasts forever. Don’t think I’m kidding. The initial rehabilitation program is eight weeks long, but the principles you learn will carry with you for the rest of your life. This is one of the reasons behind the effectiveness of the program. The second half of the rehabilitation (strength part) takes places after.

Q: How often are the workouts?

A: Every day. Or five days per week. We’re reprogramming the body. It takes time and frequency. If you can’t handle this, then this product isn’t for you. I’ll say it again, if you’re not willing to put in the work, this system will not work for you.

Q: How long do the workouts take?

A: They shouldn’t take more than an hour and can be done in the convenience of your own home. The only equipment needed is an exercise band during the first eight weeks. After, a sequence of progressions is used with a barbell and those workouts will take longer. It’s the nature of the beast.

Q: Does this come in the mail?

A: Nope. Once your payment is received, an electronic copy of the book is sent to your e-mail address.

Q: Can I still do lower body exercises while on the program?

A: Sadly, no. Squatting and deadlifting will have to take a back seat for the duration of this program because we’re reprogramming the body. You can’t heal yourself if you continue to expose yourself to pain. The movements will be reintroduced gradually and sequentially.

Q: What separates you from everyone else?

A: I use a unique approach that focuses on every joint in the lower body, except the knee. I fully believe that the knee pain is a victim, not a culprit.

Q: What if the program doesn’t work for me?

A: Consider it free. I’m willing to put my reputation on the line. You pay for quality work, and if it isn’t up to your standards you’ll get a full refund. ClickBank handles all returns within 60 days of purchase. After that, I’ll handle returns “in-house.”

Q: I have some more questions. How do I get in touch with you?

A: Want to know something? Ask me: anthony /at/ anthonymychal dot com


There was blood everywhere.

It was late. I was tired. But the egg casserole needed to sit in the fridge overnight. I had to finish.

I was shredding a block of cheddar cheese. Going as fast as I could. My focus fell. My finger switched places with the block of cheese for a second. I lopped off 1/16 of my thumb.

Am I going to need stitches? This is painful. Am I going to be able to deadlift tomorrow? I think I see bone. How will this affect my beer pong skills? 

I imagine Aron Ralston (the climber that was trapped under a boulder) had a lot more going through his mind as he intentionally sawed through his elbow socket with a dull pocket knife.

I suppose “sawed” is a bad verb to use alongside “dull pocket knife,” but my creativity is lacking. Ever eaten a turkey? Tried to twist, turn, and pull the leg in order to contort the connective tissue enough to muscle the bone from its socket?

If relying on motivation is on one end of the behavior change spectrum, relying on willpower is on the other.

Spelled out, willpower looks like this: I want the results, therefore I will do the behaviors, no matter how unpleasant — regardless of motivation, interest, or outcome.

Willpower and motivation work like opposing pistons to create your horsepower for action.

  • High motivation, low willpower = OK
  • High willpower, low motivation = OK

Think of opening up presents on Christmas morning. (Or on your birthday.) You don’t need a lot of willpower. You’re beyond motivated. The behavior leaks out of you.

But, when motivation is low, you need a lot of willpower. Think of eating a dog turd on the side of the road. Assuming you don’t have ulterior social motives (proving you’re the kind of person that’ll eat a dog turd), you’ll have to use a lot of willpower.

A behavior is never 100% motivation or 100% willpower. Even Ralston wouldn’t have been totally unmotivated to twist his elbow socket in half. The likelihood of surviving (as opposed to dying) increases motivation. Not saying Ralston was chock full of motivation. He had to use willpower. A lot of willpower. It was a dull pocket knife, after all.

But he didn’t use as much willpower as you would have to use if you were to jam a dull pocket knife into your elbow socket without being trapped under a boulder.

Things flipflop if you’re looking at resisting behaviors. If you’re motivated to do something you shouldn’t be doing, then you need lots of willpower to withhold the behavior.

I’m motivated to eat ice cream, so I need lots of willpower to stop me from eating ice cream.

If motivation fails us, then willpower must then be the key to getting shit done because they are opposing pistons, right?

I guess. In theory. You could will your way through any and all situations, like a baller. But relying on willpower is just as shitty as relying on motivation.

A lot of research has been done on willpower recently. Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Willpower Instinct, is a good overview. Willpower (as of now) is like a muscle. It can be strong and useful at times. But it can also fatigue and fail.

Studies show if you’re forced to use a bunch of willpower, you’ll have less willpower available directly afterward.

Studies show drinking a sugary drink boosts willpower. Sugar (glycogen) is your brain’s preferential fuel source. When your brain is low on fuel, it crawls into conservation mode. You have less energy available for strong willpower plays.

Willpower is a trendy thing to do now, so you’re bound to find more information on teh Gewgooles.

Some object to these willpower studies, saying perception is important. If you think you’re tired and fatigued, you will be tired and fatigued, even if you aren’t.

I agree. No one has to use willpower to resist eating maggots. In a sense, willpower is nothing but perception. But changing perception isn’t an easy thing to do. Goes back to having an epiphany (see Part 1) and completely rewiring how you see the world.

The implications remain the same, whether willpower is real or imagined. It’s sensitive to a bunch of external variables, which makes it unreliable. I guess what I’m saying is this: don’t inject sugary fruit juices into your veins in an attempt keep willpower high.

I feel like a bad guy in a cartoon leaving trails of bread crumbs to the wrong places. First, motivation. Second, willpower.

Where do we go from here?

Good question.

One thing I can say: where we are going doesn’t involve eliminating choice, even though it’s an (apparently) valid strategy.

Eliminating the choice is the coup de grâce because choice precedes motivation and willpower. If you don’t have the choice, then neither motivation nor willpower matter. But eliminating choice in practice isn’t as solid as it sounds in theory.

If you want to stop eating chocolate, then you can move to an island where chocolate cake doesn’t exist. But you aren’t going to move. It’s not practical.

You can take the general idea and apply it in a more realistic way. Can’t stop eating cake? Then don’t buy cake. You can’t eat something you don’t have.

Sounds like a swell idea, but you’re probably still shopping for the rest of the food you eat. At a grocery store. Where cake lives.

And what do you need to resist buying the cake at the store?

I’ll let you do the grunt work.

Is it even worth getting into the perception of choice? You think you have to have a 9-5 job, but you don’t. You choose to work, but you don’t perceive it as a choice.

Sometimes the perception of having no choice is just as powerful as actually having no choice. But you already know about perception. And, if you don’t, you need to read better.

We’re back to where we started now. It might not seem like we’ve made any progress, but sometimes you have to tear out existing weeds from the root before you plant fresh grass.

→ I’m working on Part 3 of the Getting Shit Done Course. If you want to be the first to know when it drops, then get on my private email list.

skinny fat frame

One of the biggest mistakes skinny-fay guys make when trying to lose fat (or when trying to “cut,” if that’s the lingo you’re privy to) makes so little sense that you’re going to have to read it twice. Kind of like this paragraph you’re reading now.

One of the biggest mistakes skinny-fat guys make when trying to lose fat focusing too much on fat loss.

Did you read it twice? Still confused? Hopefully you are and compelled enough to continue reading. Not because your continued reading is important to my fragile psyche, but, rather, because, I’m not lying.

(This is Part 2 in a series of articles. You can read Part 1 here.)

Skinny-fat guy wants to lose fat. Skinny-fat guy does the logical thing: finds activities that burn fat the most.

It doesn’t take a long time before skinny-fat figures out that aerobic exercise uses fat for fuel. (I talked about the aerobic system a bit deeper in this (hopefully) mildly coherent thing here, so if you have your mining helmet on feel free to lower yourself down. I can’t guarantee a safe trip.)

Upper heart rate range for aerobic exercise typically falls within 120-140 beats per minute, pending your aerobic fitness. I’m out of aerobic shape to the point where my top end aerobic range is probably 84 beats per minute, which is (probably) only two beats higher than my terribly out of shape resting heart rate.

Skinny-fat dude is doing this aerobic junk to lose fat. I’m compelled to call this aerobic junk “cardio,” but that word smells worse than “tone,” meaning I’ll have to jam toothpicks into my nose to protect my senses.

Unless you’re an aerobic athlete, you can probably reach the top end of your range by jogging at a slow pace. Aerobic activity can be maintained for long time. So if you’re ever feeling the burn or using a pace you can’t maintain for a long time, you’re inching beyond your aerobic threshold.

Once you go beyond your aerobic threshold, you’re in the anaerobic energy bracket, meaning you’re no longer using fat for fuel. No bueno for skinny-fat dude that’s all about burning fat.

The first thing for skinny-fat dude to know at this point: you can do cardio for centuries, but if you’re eating too much food, you aren’t going to lose fat.

You might have to dip into your savings account for extra cash on Monday, but this momentary dip in funds will be negated when you get a cash bonus at work on Tuesday. Body composition is about trends, not fads.

But I’m going to assume skinny-fat dude has his food situation under control. If he doesn’t, he’ll buy Big Win Fat Loss. He’s not eating enough to get fat. He’s not eating so little that he’s putting his metabolism into a coma. All of this aerobic junk puts skinny-fat dude on the fast path towards fat loss, right?

Maybe. Kind of. Sort of. Other ambiguous words. Because skinny-fat guy might, instead, be on the fast path towards an even uglier skinny-fat physique.

Ask anyone how to lose fat and you’re likely to get a twofold answer: eat less (or better) food and move more. It is known. But we tend to overestimate the impact of deliberate exercise on energy balance.

I can walk on the treadmill for an hour and burn 300 calories (according to said treadmill, which is undoubtedly flawed, but good enough for this example).

Or I can collapse on the couch, watch TV, and burn 84 calories in the same hour. Because, according to some random BMR calculator I found online (undoubtedly flawed once again, but, still, good enough), my body needs around 2100 calories every day to just to keep me alive in my current state, meaning my average hourly calorie usage is around 80 calories.

Do nothing and burn 80 calories. Walk for an hour and burn 300 calories. That’s a 220 calorie difference, which isn’t a lot. That’s one good beer. Most “health” bars you find in grocery stores have more than 220 calories.

Unless you’re a professional athlete doing serious training (multiple hours), you won’t burn a lot of calories during your training. And, to make matters worse, you’re a human with a bunch of self-sabotaging brain bugs, one of which is moral justification. In other words, I did something good (go to the gym), now I can do something bad (eat cake).

It’s much easier to tip energy balance seesaw in your favor by adjusting your food intake. Substitute some of your starchy carbohydrates with non-starchy vegetables. Substitute some of your junk food with lean proteins. Suddenly you’re eating 500 less calories per day.

You can lose fat without doing deliberate exercise by modifying how much you eat, which is something usually overlooked because of the association culture has created between exercise and fat burning.

But guess what? Your body is aerobic most of the day. What we think about when we think about aerobic exercise is merely a higher intensity aerobic state.

Think of a light bulb with a dimmer switch. When you’re doing conventional aerobic exercise, you’re shining as bright as possible. But, when you stop the exercise, you don’t shut off. You just revert to a dimmer setting.

“We can fix our food intake. We can do a little more aerobic exercise. Whatever. It’s all in the name of fat loss, right? Why are you shitting on aerobic exercise?”

Skinny-fat dude is an astute fellow, and he knows one pound of fat contains around 3500 calories. So his logic is as follows: go in a 500 calorie deficit via adjusting food intake and doing aerobic exercise, lose one pound per week. Because 500 calories x 7 days per week = 3500 calories per week.

But skinny-fat dude is assuming that an energy deficit is a one way street. Meaning he’s assuming all 500 calories are guaranteed to be extracted from body fat.

But the energy balance equation is a bit too vague. You can read more about why here. A more accurate way to put the energy balance equation: an imbalance of energy intake and energy output affects your body stores.

I’ll stop beating around the bush, okay? Your body can melt away muscle tissue in order to compensate for the calorie deficit. So if you eat 500 calories less, you might take 400 calories from body fat and 100 calories from muscle mass.

Why would your body do such an unfathomable thing?

Because your body cares about survival. It’s got all these fat cells that are important because your body almost always in an aerobic state (from rest and also from the aerobic exercise you’re doing).

Fat is your aerobic fuel.

Why do we accumulate money? Because we spend money. If you live in the States, you aren’t stockpiling euros. You’re stockpiling dollars because that’s the currency you need.

You don’t need a lot of muscle to gently gallop across the plains (which is what you do during aerobic exercise, for the most part), so muscle mass becomes less important.

In one hand, you have hugely important fat globules. In the other hand, you have less important muscle tissue. Which is your body going to sacrifice first when it needs to balance the energy scale?

And, in some way, sacrificing muscle is a win-win. You get cash up front, but you also make yourself more energy efficient (because you don’t have to lunk around as much weight).

Imagine you have a house. You have regular expenses. Your savings account (body fat). A boat (muscle mass).

You enjoy the boat, but it requires constant upkeep. It’s a boat. Boats always need maintained and repaired. So you have constant cash flow to the boat.

You get a different job and you’re making less money now. You’re dipping into your savings account to cover your regular expenses. But you’re smart. You don’t want to go broke. You look for other ways to compensate for the lack of income because digging into your savings ad infinitum is stupidity on a platter.

So what do you do? You sell the boat. You make cash up front from the sale, and you no longer have its monthly expense.

But what if the boat wasn’t just a toy? What if you lived in a flood zone? What if the boat was just as important to your survival as your savings? Then the boat is no longer an expense, it’s an investment.

Meaning, when your play back the same situation, you’re less likely to sell the boat, and you’re likely to continually reach into savings.

Shall we decode this?

Living in a flood zone is doing the sort of training that bombards the body with the following information: muscle mass is important for my survival. And the best way to send said information is with progressive barbell and bodyweight training.

In other words, the second most important thing a skinny-fat guy can do (this), even when (especially when) skinny-fat guy is trying to lose fat.

But barbell and bodyweight training is often overlooked when focusing on fat loss because it’s not aerobic and thus not directly fat burning. This is both true and untrue.

It’s not heavily aerobic, no. But if you’re doing squats, presses, and pulls, your heart rate is going to rise and fall through the aerobic heart rate range as you train. Here’s a fun experiment. Put a heart rate monitor on. Do a set of heavy barbell curls for ten reps, then look at your heart rate.

It’s temping to obsess over fat burning exercise when trying to lose fat, but, remember, you can lose fat without deliberate aerobic exercise.

In order to really transform your body, you have to begin to see exercise as a stressor that contains specific information, and this information is interpreted by the body’s primitive survival software.

When you ditch (or de-prioritize) strength training, you’re telling your body that muscle mass isn’t important.

And now that you undoubtedly think aerobic exercise is Satan’s right hand man, let me try to reach some sort of equilibrium.

Aerobic exercise isn’t going to make you fat. It isn’t going to hurt you. But it shouldn’t interfere with your freshness and your recovery for strength training.

There are ways you can program for aerobic training and strength training, but the easiest way is to simply walk. Walking is great because it doesn’t stress your body, but it uses more energy than, uhhh, not walking. And the increase blood flow throughout your system will actually improve recovery.

Walk as often and as much as you want. Do progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training. Now we’re getting somewhere.

On the strength training side, I don’t recommend training like a bodybuilder out to pack on slabs of mass, doing insane volume, when you’re simultaneously in an energy deficit. But strength training should still be priority uno. You can get stronger as you lose fat, just not as quickly.

Oh. Yeah. Wait.

I just finished telling you about the second most important thing a skinny-fat guy can do.

The first thing?


Air is anabolic. You die almost immediately without it.

So disappoint.

tom delay disappoint

skinny fat frame

Do you plan on looking like an emaciated prisoner of war? I mean, I guess it’s not a bad idea if you’re looking for a Halloween costume with shock value. But something tells me the whole “Christian Bale in The Machinist look isn’t exactly kitsch otherwise.

(Did I really just use “kitsch” in a sentence? What is wrong with me?)

christian bale the machinist

If you don’t want to rock the I might die tomorrow look, there’s something you need to do yesterday. I consider it the second most important thing a skinny-fat dude can do to look better naked.

Doesn’t matter if you’re bulking or cutting. Although, you should know, I only use those words because they are popular lexicon. I’m not a fan of conventional bodybuilder bulk and cut strategies for skinny-fat dudes.

But I’m not here to talk about that. Maybe later. My strategies will make more sense to you after I slice through the weeds we’re about to enter anyway.

The second most important thing a skinny-fat guy can do is progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training. The combination is money in the bank if you want a lean and muscular body.

If you trust me and don’t care why I recommend barbell and bodyweight strength, then I suggest B3W, which is my program (and programming philosophy) for building an x physique. Or you can find a free program online. Whatever. Just pick something.

If you don’t trust me, then the list of objections circumventing through your cranial canals is accumulating.

  • But I use machines, which are just as good.
  • But I’m not sure if I should be bulking right now.
  • But I don’t want to be a huge bodybuilder.
  • But I just want to be toned.
  • But butts

I’ve answered enough emails to know Nietzche was onto something: those a strong why can bear almost any how. Without a why, well, fuhgetaboudit. So what follows is why barbell and bodyweight strength training is the second most important thing a skinny-fat dude can do.

If you want to know the most important thing (not the second most) a skinny-fat guy can do, you’ll have to stick around for my answer. Another cliffhanger. Wow I’m good.

But I’m warning you up front: it will absolutely, hands down, disappoint you more than Jar Jar Binks. The curiosity seed has been planted though. Information gap. Loophole. I’m winning.

The first reason barbell and bodyweight strength training is important: muscle mass.

Progressive barbell and bodyweight strength training is the quickest and most reliable way to build muscle. If you want to know why, read this mildly coherent thing I made.

But why is muscle mass in itself so important for a skinny-fat guy? I’m glad I made you ask yourself this question, but here’s the deal: you need to have thick skin to appreciate the answer.

The Truth (capitalized, fellas) is that most skinny-fat dudes drastically overestimate how much muscle they have.

Skinny-fat dude weighs 180 pounds. Skinny-fat dude decides to lose weight. Skinny-fat dude gets down to 160 pounds, only to have every family member and friend tell him he looks ghastly enough to drop dead any second because he’s about as shapely as a dry towel on a clothes line.

Aside from the small pouch of belly fat he still has, of course.

Skinny-fat dude is bummed. Skinny-fat dude worries. He wants to get rid of the rest of his fat, but he’s afraid of turning into a pile of dust.

Skinny-fat dude doesn’t want the rest of his muscle to melt away, which is ironic because, well, there was never much muscle to begin with. As the great Scotty Smalls once said, “I haven’t had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?”


Skinny-fat dude is simply revealing the Truth of his body, which is a bunch of bones that were formerly covered in fat tissue.

His ego makes him think he was more muscular at his previous weight, but he’s confusing Taking up more space with Being more muscular. Or, even worse, he’s confusing Weighing a certain amount with Looking good naked, which is insanely too common.

A lot of skinny-fat guys don’t want to drop below a certain weight, but have no rational explanation for their feelings.

“I don’t want to get below 150 pounds.”

People want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club because of the way he looked, not because of how much he weighed. I know this because 99% of the people that say, “I want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club,” will not know how much Pitt weighed when filming the movie.

Your body isn’t a number. You aren’t trying to be a number.

Most people that are cut and ripped weigh less than you’d think they would. You don’t need a lot of muscle mass if you have low body fat.

Brad Pitt was sub 10% body fat in Fight Club. I’ve only been sub 10% body fat a few times because, well, I like drinking beer. Too much beer. I should get a beer.

Pitt was 165 pounds, standing at 5′ 11″. But Pitt looked good at 165 pounds because he had muscle mass. If he didn’t have muscle mass, and he dieted to sub 10% body fat, he’d probably be 140-150 pounds.

Let’s reconnect this to skinny-fat dude. Skinny-fat dude loses fat and is way leaner, but he still doesn’t like the way he looks. Meanwhile, skinny-fat dude just did something tons of people would love to do: shed a bunch of body fat. Instead of being happy about his accomplishment, he’s sad.

He  wasn’t equipped with the right expectations, which are as follows: as a skinny-fat dude, the odds of you having (a) a lot of muscle, (b) a favorable skeletal structure is slim.

Once you lose fat, you’re going to be mostly skin and bones. And the bones of a skinny-fat dude aren’t all that attractive.

skinny fat physique a frame

Although it’s impossible to have a hip-width that exceeds your shoulder-width, a skinny-fat physique often pushes those boundaries.

Combine a lack of upper body muscle and fat storage in the lower stomach and love handle region, and you’re looking at an “A” framed upper body.

An “A” has a wide base and a narrow peak. Once you lose fat, you still have that same unfavorable body frame.

skinny fat frame

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to beauty culture, but most females are attracted to males with a more “X” shaped body, meaning the upper body has a “V” shape, meaning it’s the exact opposite of the skinny-fat “A” frame.


Whether or not you want an “X” shaped body is up to you. You might want look rectangular, like a brick. I don’t care. I don’t judge. It’s your body. I’m not in the business of telling anyone what they should want.

But there’s only one way to change the “A” frame: you have to add. You can’t change your shoulder-width or hip-width. But you can add a bunch of meat to the upper chest, shoulders, and upper back to make your “A” look more like a “V” (or “H” if you’re into the brick look) over time. And the best way to add said meat is with progressive barbell and bodyweight training.

skinny fat body x physique

Some of you are now thinking, “But I just want to be toned, defined, and proportioned,” which is my cue to shove your face into hot coals.

Muscle toning is a scam. What is commonly seen as a toned muscle is better described as a defined muscle. Muscle definition comes from two things: muscle size and body fat.

Imagine buying a doggie chew bone. Now wrap a flank steak around the doggie bone. Circle one single layer of plastic wrap around the steak, adhering it to the doggie bone.

  • Steak = muscle size
  • Plastic wrap = body fat

A big steak with a lot of plastic wrap makes for a massive structure, but it won’t be all that defined (because there’s too much plastic wrap [body fat] covering the steak [muscle]).

A small steak with a little bit of plastic wrap makes for a lean appearance, but it won’t be all that defined (because there’s not enough steak [muscle] to show through the plastic wrap [body fat]).

You need to have both a big enough muscle and a low enough body fat to have what’s considered a defined muscle.

I’m not talking about becoming a bodybuilder. Ten to twenty pounds of muscle goes a long way in shaping your body, especially if you build muscle in the right places.

There are people with the insanely irrational fear of getting too bulky overnight, which slaps every non-genetic freak in the face that has scratched and clawed day in and day out (with training, eating, sleeping) in order to build an inch of muscle.

Assuming no abnormality, human biology is set up in such a way that a wild metabolic reconfiguration overnight is pretty much impossible. It takes time to convince your body to change.

All of this sounds like I’m recommending a typical bodybuilder bulk up in order to build muscle, but that’s not 100% true. Progressive barbell and bodyweight training is important if you’re trying to build muscle, yes. But it’s equally important if you’re trying to lose fat.

You can do a lot of things with your money. You can buy Chrono Trigger. You can fix your leaky roof. You can gamble at the casino.

You can also save your money. You can put it away knowing, at some point, you might not have any income and it would be nice to have some tucked away. Maybe you plan on quitting your job or finding a new one. Or maybe you plan on retiring soon.

The safest place to put excess money is in a low interest savings account. No market crash will zap away your money overnight. It’ll just slowly accumulate.

Your body can do lots of things with its income, too. Body fat is like your body’s savings account. I wish I could make this sexier, but I can’t. What follows is my rationale as to why.

It’s probably completely wrong. Who knows. But I’m giving it a shot.

Your body gets the energy it needs from the breakdown of ATP (mentioned previously here). Think of ATP as an individual firecracker. It breaks apart, energy is released, and then you’re left with “broken” and un-useable ADP.

Luckily, the body has minions that repair ADP back into ATP, and that’s what the energy systems are all about: recycling junk to sustain energy so that you don’t keel over during whatever it is that you happen to be doing…like breathing and being alive.

Not all of these minions work by the same mechanism. These “minions” are commonly known as energy systems. You have three primary energy systems: the aerobic system, the lactic-anaerobic system, and the alactic-anaerobic system.

  • The aerobic (oxidative) system sustains output for hours.
  • The lactic-anaerobic (glycolytic) system sustains output for around 60-90 seconds.
  • The alactic-anaerobic (ATP-PC) system sustains output for around 10-15 seconds.

These systems don’t exist in vacuums. As you read this, all three of the above systems are on, it’s just that they’re only on a certain percentage based on what you’re doing with your body, and how quickly you need energy.

Imagine sprinting as fast as you can.

For the first 100M or so, you’d be alactic-anaerobic and burning through phosphocreatine stores, which regenerate energy quickly. Because PC-Minions regenerate ATP quickly, you’re at near-max energy potential with every stride.

After the 100M, you’d fade into the lactic-anaerobic energy pathway and use glycogen to replenish energy. Glyco-Minions regenerate ATP slower than PC-Minions.This is why speed drops; there’s not as much free energy floating around. You’re bursting firecrackers, but, with every passing second, less and less are being restored. And with less around, you can’t perform as well.

If you’re in terrible running shape (like me), you’ll fizzle into the aerobic energy pathway before you reach the 800M mark. You’re now at a slow jog. Or, if you’re fat like me you’re walking, and one step away from putting your hands on your knees and bowing your head. The aerobic energy pathway can use glycogen or triglycerides (stored fat) in order to replenish energy.

For lower intensity longer duration work, triglycerides get the nod because (a) they take a long time to break down and get put to use, which is fine when you don’t need lots of energy, (b) they yield a lot more energy, and (c) you have a near unlimited supply of triglycerides (collectively known as body fat), so you can maintain the low output for a long period of time.

This is how the energy systems break down in a vacuum, but life is a rabbit hole.

Multiple bouts and rest intervals mess with the time stamps on each energy system. In other words, sprinting all out for ten seconds is alactic-anaerobic. But if you sprinted for ten seconds, rested for ten seconds, and then sprinted again for ten seconds, you can bet your second sprint to push into lactic-anaerobic territory.

Protein can also sneak into the story. If you’re starving and in desperate need of energy, your body can break down protein (muscle tissue) and use it to regenerate ADP back into ATP.

Are you on the toilet right now? Because I’m starting to confuse the shit out of myself. Flush me downtown, baby.

You can ignore the complex stuff above as long as you understand most of the voluntary movement you perform in a given day is aerobic, or perhaps better said: could be taken care of aerobically.

You’re using body fat to fuel most of your daily voluntary activities.

Typing, sitting, walking, sleeping, breathing — you’re able to sustain these things for a loooonnnng period of time. Don’t get confused. Walking and jogging (and the typical McFitness exercise shtick) is also aerobic, just at a higher gradient.

Now that we’ve talked about the body, let’s talk about the brain.

Your brain is a little different than your body. Your brain likes to sip on liver glycogen (stored carbohydrates) for fuel. But liver glycogen stores are finite.

A crude estimate for liver glycogen longevity is 24 hours. So if you went without food for one day, you’d be empty. No bueno. Because no fuel for the brain makes for a dead brain.

Assuming Western eating habits, no big deal though. We eat often. And we eat the types of foods that are easily stored as liver glycogen.

But humans can survive without food for longer than one day, no matter how hangry some people get six hours after their last meal. Hangriness is a pet peeve of mine. There’s nothing worse than people crying about hunger even though they’ve eaten less than twelve hours ago.

We can survive longer than one day without food because the human body is a wizard. When liver glycogen runs out, the body breaks down its body fat to produce ketones, which the brain uses when liver glycogen runs dry.

Alright. Got all that, chief? Enough of the science crap. I probably got half of it wrong anyway. (Oops.) Now we connect two and two.

Assume zombies attack and you’re stranded in your basement. Without food. You’re like a bear hibernating for the winter.

What substance is going to keep your brain alive and kicking the longest? Fat. 

What substance is going to keep your body alive and kicking in a low intensity shut down state the longest? Fat.

Body fat is your savings account because it’s your Oh Shit fund. If you ever lose your job and have no income (aren’t eating), your savings account keeps you afloat the longest, allowing you to (attempt to) find a new job.

Humans are, shall we say, fatphillic. We have an affinity for storing body fat because our evolutionary history was filled with nutrient and energy shortages. Being fatphillic meant you could better survive those shortages. Better survival rates made for better reproductive rates, meaning those fatphillic genes were passed down over time.

Unfortunately, in today’s Western world, being fatphillic is worse for survival. Type II diabetes is on the rise, which should be renamed Pizza the Hutt Syndrome.


Because, for all intents and purposes, type II diabetes is the disease of eating yourself to death. It’s when all of your fat cells are full up with nutrients and energy, meaning the junk has no where to go. So it floats around in your body (high blood sugar) and causes mayhem.

Humans want to store body fat when possible. The “when possible” being an important qualification. Don’t read this and think you’re destined to be fat (even though if you live in the Western world, well, you kind of are).

In order to put money into savings, you have to first be taking care of your immediate expenses.

You won’t put money into savings if you can’t afford your mortgage.

You won’t get gain fat if you can’t fuel your basic survival functions.

eugen sandow dost thou even hoist

If someone offered you $1,000,000 to successfully predict one book that’d still be for sale 100 years from now, what book would you pick?

  1. A book that just started selling yesterday.
  2. A book that’s been selling for 100 years.

If someone offered you $1,000,000 to accurately predict one human that’d be alive 100 years from now, what person would you pick?

  1. A baby that’s been alive for only one day.
  2. An elder that’s been alive for 100 years.

Think it over.

I’ll come back to this in a second.

I am better off putting the money into a bucket and lighting it on fire, allowing me to turn off the heat in my house for five minutes and save three cents on my electricity bill. But I don’t. I fall for it.

I sign up for a new kind of website technology called The Grid. It’s an artificially intelligent website builder that shapes itself around the type of content you create.

Well, I don’t really like my website. So this new thing has to be better. The future! Yes! It sounds fresh and exciting. Who needs that smell old stuff everyone else is using? I’ll check it out. 

Us humans have a love for the new. What’s the hippest and coolest app? What’s the latest and greatest training method? What’s the revolutionary new diet?

Nassim Taleb often refers to this love for the new as neomania, which makes it sounds like a disease. And that’s a good thing, because our love for the new often backfires.

No matter how exciting new things seem, most new things aren’t as effective as old things. Old things are old because they’ve been useful enough to stick around.

In your right hand, there are perishable things. Things that go bad. Things that die. Things with a true lifespan. Food. Humans. Animals.

In your left hand, there are non-perishable things. Things that never go bad. Things that pass through generations. Books. Beliefs. Technology.

The Lindy Effect says that, with every passing day: the perishable things in your right hand get closer to extinction, where as the non-perishables in your left hand get closer to immortality.

Predicting a book that’s going to be around 100 years from now? Choose a book that’s been around for 100 years already. 

Predicting a human that’s going to be around 100 years from now? Choose a human that hasn’t yet seen 100 days.

If you want to avoid neomania, you can run everything through Lindy. Ask yourself: has this stood the test of time?

Most of what we rely on and need to transform our minds and bodies are non-perishable things, meaning they’ve been around for a long time.

How do you live a good life? Most of the useful advice of today has roots in Stoicism and Buddhism. Even the most useful points of psychology (cognitive biases) can be seen throughout old books and stores.

How do you eat good food? Food itself is perishable, but the idea of eating certain things to sustain life isn’t. Were people eating what you’re eating 100 years ago?

lindy effect gimmicks sandow

How do you train? The ThighMaster isn’t popular anymore. That there hunk of iron? Eugen Sandow was hoisting that in 1900. Gymnastics rings. Pull-up bars. Parallel bars. All have been around for a loonnngggg time.

Supplements? I’ll let you do the mental gymnastics on this one. I can’t give you all the answers now, can I?


I can hear it…


You’re right.

Not everything that withstands the test of time is useful, and not everything new will prove to be useless. And sometimes perishable things that’ve been around a while have the upper hand in lasting longer.

Someone that’s lived for 50 years might be someone you want to bet on to live another 50 years because they have proven to be a somewhat resilient and healthy human. A two day old baby doesn’t have that same track record.

But you’re also wrong.

Because you’re falling trap to the survivorship bias and overvaluing the few successors, all the while (as Taleb would say, or so I would like to think) ignoring the cemetery of evidence.

Lindy is a beginning, not an end.

But the odds are in Lindy’s favor.

So while that electronic abdominal blaster gizmo will seem cool — you’ll buy one, don’t worry; just like you’ll buy outrageous supplements — keep Lindy in mind when your internal GPS is ready to recalculate.

Here’s a thought experiment that’ll blow your mind (premise of which comes from Tony Robbins):

Instead of thinking things happen to you, think instead things happening for you.

Sitting in traffic? Girlfriend dumps you? Break a bone? Stuck in your wife’s dutch oven? These things happen for you, not to you.

…which isn’t necessarily to coast into “everything happens for a reason” fairy tale land. Things don’t always happen for a reason. But you can always learn and grow from the things that do happen.

I’d ask you make this thought experiment an actual experiement in this thing called, you know, real life. But it’s not easy. The Dark Side of your biology wants you to be a selfish sourpuss.

But if you’re able to suppress the Dark Side and walk through life this way, everything changes because the model changes.

The word model isn’t all that spicy and may seem a bit foreign, but you use hundreds of models every second of every day. They anchor your expectations, help you make decisions, and serve as your compass when navigating the world.

I’ll steal the fancy pants definition of a model from from Peter Bevelin’s book, Seeking Wisdom, which is one of those books you tell yourself you’re going to re-read every year. But when you crack it open, you wonder what kind of mischief is going down in Lee Child’s seven millionth Jack Reacher book, even though you really don’t want to read another Jack Reacher book.

You decide to read one page of Seeking Wisdom per day, all the while thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s a series of satirical stories that can be written about the same information, making it easier to digest than the current bowl of sawdust you’re shoving into your mouth.

But then you remember the difference between EQ and IQ and, oh snap!, realize you’re the finest producer of sawdust in the galaxy.


A model is an idea that helps us better understand how the world works. Models illustrate consequences and answer questions like ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Models help us avoid problems. Assume that we are told that the earth consists of infinite resources. By knowing the idea about limits, we know the statement is false. Someone gives us an investment proposal about a project that contradicts the laws of physics. How much misery can be avoided by staying away from whatever doesn’t make scientific sense?

-Peter Bevelin, Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger

Perhaps a more practical definition: a belief system of how something is supposed to work that shapes how you interpret (and react to) events and solve (and approach) problems.

My farts smell like a dead animal. Whatever. Farts smell bad. If my farts smelled like peaches, you’d be all sorts of confused because the models around flatulence you have don’t allow for fruity farting.

When talking flatulence, models seem silly. But the greatest breakthroughs throughout human history are nothing more than model makeovers.

The earth is round, not flat. Sail around the world!  Time and space aren’t constant. Wormholes and time travel! All people are pink and squishy on the inside. Slavery might not have been a great idea after all!

Should I have used an exclamation point for that last sentence! I know I shouldn’t have for the last one, it was a question, which makes this paragraph terribly confusing! My ego is running amok! What’s happening! All your base are belong to me!

Everything changes when the model changes, which is why models are a bigger deal than Ron Burgundy. As Charlie Munger said in his famous USC Business School speech, they are the key to worldly wisdom.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

-Charlie Munger, USC Business School speech

Given that everything is at the mercy of models, what I’m about to say is particularly problematic:

Most of the models we have about the process of physical transformations are busted. And the models somewhat intact are still crooked enough to cause concern…sort of like the taste buds of the folks that drink IPAs.

Here’s a story to show you the mayhem that (potentially) ensues when you’re guided by models that are muy malo.


I am sixteen years old. I am eating breakfast. Two eggs over medium, home fries, three pieces of bacon, wheat toast, and pancakes.

I wonder why I am skinny-fat. Fuck. At least Sunday morning breakfast replaced Sunday morning church. I don’t sit through an hour of existential mayhem anymore, I develop body image issues on account of grandiose breakfast feasts. Is it worth? You betcha.

I take a sip of my chocolate milk. And then I realize something.

You poop out your body fat.

The solid mass of fat stays solid. It oozes out of the belly pouch and love handles. It slithers through the body. It’s gone with the rest of my waste.

It makes so much sense. It has to be true.

Luckily, when I reached this Nobel Prize realization, I was sitting high on the philosophologist’s throne. (SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE, LOL.)

Because if I would have ran with my idea, I would have had the runs. Indeed, nothing would have said Success! quite like me shitting out my intestines.

Given my miraculous scientific discovery, I could have outlined my strategy. Alright, poop is the key. So I need to poop more. Cool. And then my tactics would have followed. Chug TurboLax in coffee. Sprinkle psyllium husk on everything. Schedule routine enemas.

And I could have made this list right after I bought invisibility pills, played the lottery, and bowed my head in prayer.

Strategies and tactics are at the mercy of the the model. So bad models make for bad strategies make for bad tactics. This is why models are high food chain thinking, where as tactics are low food chain thinking.

Too bad you’re (usually) suckered into creaming over the tactics, tips, tricks, hacks, shortcuts, next low food chain thinking buzzword of the month without considering the model.

A tactics first focus sounds good. Your time is valuable. A most precious commodity. Keeping Up with the Kardashians is one of the most popular shows on TV. Makes total sense.

So don’t tell me to paint no fence or wax no car. Don’t nobody gat time fo ‘dat filosofikal drivel, Mr. Miyagi. 

But when you plop this atop a bad model, you’re in for a world of hurt. And if pooping out your body fat seems a little far fetched, did you know, well, that, perhaps, just, maybe you’re not fat, MAYBE YOU’RE JUST BLOATED!

Bad tactics aren’t Mewtwo rare when you’re stomping through the McFitness PlayPlace. Ahem. P90X. Toning. Jillian Fucking Michaels. All the pre and post-workout supplement garbage. The ShakeWeight.

Jim: I got an idea, guys. What if we make a plastic dumbbell you have to shake like this?

shakeweight mcfitness

Bob: I don’t know Jim. That looks a lot like how a guy masturbates. Don’t you think guys will have enough experience to know doing this every day won’t make them ripped because, if it did, they’d already be ripped?

Jim: No, Bob. You don’t understand. These idiots don’t think in models. And apparently you don’t either. You’re fired.

I wanted one of those blue ab wheel contraptions so bad when I was in middle school. I wanted it to melt the fat off my belly. But I also thought supersetting sets of mechanized ab wheel rollouts with eating stuffed crust DiGiorno pepperoni pizza was my golden ticket.

My model of fat loss didn’t include food because, uhh, the commercial didn’t say anything about food. Or maybe it did in one pixel font at the bottom of the screen.

McFitness often implores you to gaze into the yonder at the beautiful foliage, the setting sun, and the pot of gold at the end of the glistening rainbow.

“You need to take the first step forward, and all of it can be yours,” they say.

Sounds good, until you realize you’re standing on the edge of the Empire State building, where the first step forward puts you on the human silly putty express.

Ready for the double whammy? If you continue on the low food chain tactical scavenger hunt, you’ll forego the high food chain thinking needed to fix the sinking ship.

As long as my models tell me that pooping is the magic fat loss solution, I’m going to look for ways to poop more.

TurboLax doesn’t work? Well. I mean. It works. My butthole is one fire. But it didn’t melt my body fat. Alright. What else can make my poop more? Habanero peppers? Psyllium husk? Colonoscopy? What’s the magic tactic?

The triple whammy…?

Humans are storytelling machines. You see people doing x, y, z on the television. You try x, y, z. You don’t get the same results. You conclude you’re broken, different, damaged, deranged, and other d words with negative connotations because alliteration is fun.

All because of the model.

But don’t let me fool you. I’m a walking contradiction. (My new job title?) I don’t always have hemorrhoids, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Wait. No. That’s not what was supposed to come out.

If I had hemorrhoids, I wouldn’t want someone to drag me through a Mr. Miyagi inspired “paint the fence” cure. Just give me the salve, mandingo.

Thanks to modern day beauty culture, the body is just another hemorrhoid. It’s unsightly. It’s uncomfortable. It’s embarrassing. It’s a problem that needs fixed as quickly as possible.

Biology doesn’t help. Humans are conservation machines. Why drown yourself in a river of philosophy when you can just take a pill?

kaneda pill jacket

We’re wired to gobble up low food chain thinking, and it’s not uncommon to fight fire with fire.

“Do this, not that.”

But that’s a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Because even with Good tactics, you still might not do well without a robust model in your back pocket. But the reason why I’ll save for another time. I already want to stab my eyes out.

So the real answer? To avoid tactical-go-round, and, instead, evaluate the model upon which the tactics stick.

To use better models so that the right tactics become undeniable and the wrong tactics become sensible only if you’re an Oompa Loompa living in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

To which now you’re surely wondering how we’ve come so far without mentioning one single Good model.

Do I just I love spitting sawdust into the ether to test your attention span (or maybe I just suck at communicating)? Partly. But I really do want to give you the One Model to Rule Them All and be done with this model business (trust me, I’ve rewritten this like twelve billion times).

But there is no such thing as the One Model to Rule Them All.

As Munger said in the same speech referenced above, you need to have a variety of models.

Well, the first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models—because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does. You become the equivalent of a chiropractor who, of course, is the great boob in medicine.

-Charlie Munger, USC Business School speech

If you stick around my website long enough (and survive the sawdust) you’ll learn many of the models I use because that’s my modus operandi.

Imagine not believing in gravity and getting upset when things fall to the ground. You’d live life as a frustrated and confused mess. Most people trying to look better (naked) and move better (athletically) are, in some sense, walking around as if gravity didn’t exist.

When you fix models, the world becomes less mysterious and more predictable. Decisions become self-evident. You trust the process. You cope with situations. <Insert another vague sentence that goes down smooth, yet has no substance here.>

So although I can’t give you the One Model to Rule Them All, the high food chain thinking toolbox I gave you is more valuable than any one single model.

You just can’t be afraid to open it up and get to work. As Daniel Kahneman said in Thinking, Fast and Slow:

Questioning what we believe and want is difficult at the best of times, and especially difficult when we most need to do it…

-Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow


Imagine you die.


But you’re lucky.

Your friend has phoenix down. Revives you.

(If you’re unlucky, you don’t know what a phoenix down is so you die and this conversation is over.)

Next day you die again.

Friend has second phoenix down. Revives you again.

Next day you die again.


Phoenix down brings you back. But doesn’t fix WHY you’re dying.

phoenix down injuries

If you have clogged artery, you come back…but just clogs again.

To fully heal, you need to dissect. Fix real problem.

Injuries are similar.

Pain is manifestation, result, of an injury.

Pain isn’t the problem. It’s your body telling you there’s a problem…somewhere.

You can fix pain (phoenix down) without fixing the reason for pain.

This is what most people do when they rest injuries.

Feels nice to do. Sit back. Relax. Pain goes away. You feel good.

But there’s a 96.4% chance you’ll ram right into pain again because you didn’t fix the reason you were in pain. (All statistics are taken from the National Journal of National Journals.)

So bed rest fixes pain, but doesn’t fix reason for pain. Meaning bed rest is fine if you plan on resting in bed until you die.

If you don’t?

Dissect. Find the cause, fix the cause, and sacrifice for the cause…even if it means regressing in certain areas.

Pain is just a symptom.

To fully heal doesn’t mean just being pain free.

When you’re dealing with an injury, ask yourself:

Are you fixing the pain? Or are you fixing the problem that’s causing the pain?

Assuming the injury isn’t random (sometimes injuries are random), look for the reason. Deal with the pain, yeah, but don’t stop there. Dig. Dig. Dig.

Where there is smoke, there’s fire. Putting out the fire is lovely. But the more attention you give to the fire itself, the less you give to the arsonist sprinting out of the back door and into the woods.

And as long as the arsonist is alive, your house is in danger.



It’s 12AM. You’ve been drinking for a few hours. You feel good. The party isn’t stopping anytime soon. Neither are you.

It’s 4AM. You look at your pyramid of empty beer cans and the empty bottles of tequila. You think to yourself, “Geez. I drank a lot. But I’m sill feeling good. Awesome.”

anthony mychal tequila

Yet as soon as you flop down into bed, the entire room twists around you. You feel like you’re being sucked into a void. You have, what my good friend Bobby calls, the whirlies.

Do whatever it takes to stay awake when you have the whirlies. Get up. Walk around. Tell someone to punch you in the face. These strategies only work 33% of the time though. The other 66% of the time, you’re so drunk you can’t even feel the cold touch of a Sharpie on your cheek.

You wake up with a hangover and think, “This is awful. I need to do something. Slam down fatty breakfast foods? Chuck back a bottle of painkillers? Something. Anything.

The logic is as follows…

First, there’s a problem. Something you want fixed. Something you want changed.

Second, you think, “What do I need to ADD in order to solve the problem?”

This logic isn’t isolated.

  • Fat? What supplements should I take?
  • Sick? What medicine should I take? 
  • Weak? What exercise should I do?
  • Bad posture? What stretches should I do?
  • Sad? What kind of alcohol should I drink?
  • Injured? What kind of brace should I wear?
  • Tired? What form of caffeine should I consume?

Maybe there’s some deep biological wiring pushing us towards solution by addition. Maybe it’s consumerist beauty culture and the idea that, well, you aren’t enough and, with our product, you can feel whole.

But what if there was a better way?

What if solution by addition only made the problem worse?

You might know of the n-body problem. If not, don’t wet yourself. It’s simple. The n-body problem goes like this: problems with two variables are simple, but once you add a third you might as well shove a toenail in your eye.

Adding variables makes things more confusing, and more confusing things tend to lead to more problems. Perhaps the scariest examples being forms of iatrogenics, which are problems caused by medical interventions.

Get surgery, get a sponge left inside of your body. Get prescribed sixteen drugs, six of which conflict with each other. Go to a chiropractor and listen any single word that comes out of his or her mouth.

It’s one thing to absolutely need medical attention, like, Oh no there’s a toenail stuck in my eye. The upsides of the situation outweighing the potential iatrogenic downsides.

But a lot of medical interventions aren’t emergency situations. A lot of surgery is elective. A lot of surgery is avoidable. Back surgeries? Hip replacements? Liposuction?

Culture says little about prevention, which usually requires via negativa, otherwise said: living by way of denial.

A lot of problems can be solved by eliminating rather than adding.


Body fat?

Instead of thinking about what exercises to start doing, think about which foods to stop eating.

Bad posture?

Instead of thinking about what mobility drills to start doing, think about what positions you’re in that are killing your posture to begin with.


Instead of thinking about what form of caffeine to consume, think about what you can stop doing that’s preventing a good night’s sleep.


Instead of thinking about the next planner app, think about the ability to eliminating thoughts from your brain (meditate).


Instead of thinking about what brace to wear, think about eliminating the movements casing you pain. (But don’t just cast a phoenix down.)


We should expand the definition of iatrogenics: an unnecessary addition, especially when a subtraction would be safer (and potentially more effective).

Now, this isn’t to say all addition is evil. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to exercise if you’re trying to build a better body. It’s necessary if you want any semblance of muscle mass.

But when you add things to your life, you’re going to add complications. Strength training? Oh yeah. Time. Injuries. Motivation. Blah.

Think instead about the behaviors you already have and what you can do with them.

Shampooed and conditioned my hair, as you can tell. You gotta’ condition your hair cause…everyone else does.

Someone told me the reason we’re supposed to condition our hair is ’cause we shampoo our hair too often. So instead of using one product less often, we just added another product.

Yah my wife didn’t like me drinking beer every night and so make her feel better I started drinking beer and whiskey. Maybe that’ll get her off my back.

-Jim Gaffigan, Obsessed

It’s 12:05PM. I was supposed to train at 12:00PM. I don’t know when I’ll drag myself downstairs to my home gym. I will. Eventually. I won’t be jumping out of my seat with a heart full of motivation. But I’ll get shit done.

You want to change. Lose fat. Build muscle. You have so much self-discontent your psyche is A Christmas Story leg lamp fragile.

Christmas story leg lamp motivation

I would know. I hated looking in the mirror. Here’s where I’m supposed to write about something funny to lighten the mood. Oops. I was never one to recognize and respond to stock social cues for the sake of custom.

Yet your brain, the same one filled with massive self-discontent, can’t propel you to do what you need to do to get to where you want to go. The irony is agonizing.

People use motivation as a scapegoat. I’m just not motivated. I want to be more motivated. How do I become more motivated? Where do I find motivation?

You won’t find motivation here, nor will you find out how to become more motivated (or create more motivation). Motivation is for suckers. You don’t need motivation. You need to get shit done.

The view source function on “look better, move better, feel better” reveals underlying behavioral code.

“I want to lose fat” really means “I want to change my behaviors. I want to start doing things that’ll make me lean, I want to stop doing things that’ll make me fat.”

But does it really mean that? Is that how you really feel?

Probably not. Else you’d just get shit done.

You don’t need motivation to grab a beer out of the fridge because you want the beer.

The dissonance you experience comes from wanting the outcome, but not wanting to perform the behaviors that’ll lead to the outcome.

This is why change is hard.

I wonder why I do what I do. Often. I think about giving up and shoving my face with muck until I die (happily and well fed) of type 2 diabetes. I bounce back and forth between ripped and eh because I’ve yet to kill the inner fat kid inside of me.

motivation anthony mychal

I do this because you often lose when you try to fool your subconscious.

People without a lot of self-confidence will crash and burn if they use positive reinforcement techniques. They can’t resolve the cognitive dissonance it creates.

I’m awesome! No. Wait. I’m not. I’m a piece of shit. An awesome piece of shit? Fuck. Why am I even thinking this? I’m a great person. I need to be confident. I hate myself. 

You want the outcome, but you don’t want to perform the behaviors that’ll lead to the outcome. It’s okay. What’s not okay is expecting motivation to seep out of this situation.

Motivation is multifaceted.

Your interest in both the behaviors and the expected outcome influence motivation. Your feelings about the behavior from a reward and punishment standpoint influence motivation.

We’re smelly moist machines with ancient software that programs for risk aversion. From an evolutionary standpoint, humans prone to harder, risky, discomforting things were the ones that stuck their head into a noisy bush where a black bear was having sex. And if there’s one thing I know about black bears, it’s that they don’t take kindly to interrupted sex. (I know nothing about black bears.)

Risky humans didn’t live long enough to pass down copies of their genes. We tend to avoid punishment and pain. We tend to seek pleasure and reward. The more pain, punishment, and discomfort you associate towards a behavior (the act or the outcome), the less motivated you’ll be.

Your ability influences motivation. You’ll be more motivated to do something you’ve already proven you can do. This ties into expectancy, which is a biggie.

Do you expect your efforts to make a difference? Your past matters.

You tell yourself, “I’ll start Monday!” And you do. Hardcore. You feel fresh. You feel good. Tuesday comes, and you hang on. Wednesday, you feel a little…off. Your grip starts to fail. Thursday, well, uhh, you see, something came up, and, uhh, well, I just couldn’t.

“I’ll start Monday!”

You can only start so many Mondays with motivation. Before long, even if you’re consciously ready to (finally) be consistent and get shit done, your subconscious identifies the charade.

“Oh, great. You’re doing this song and dance again. I know what this is all about. You’re going to quit two days later. No need to get excited. It’s just a passing phase.”

Your subconscious expects another failure. Your motivation is low.

Another influence to motivation is timeliness. The longer it takes to see or own a result, the less motivation you’ll have. Your brain gets hooked easier when there’s immediate feedback. Too bad in the Land of Bod, things don’t happen fast (except injuries).

I’m sure motivation is even more multifaceted, but I’ve done my job and pretended to know enough. Time to move on.

You can see why your motivation is low. You can also see what wanting more motivation really means.

It means you want your perception to be flipped upside down.

Ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup I.

Call it an epiphany. A behavior formerly seen as positive, happy, or safe (or even neutral) becomes something very very very very very negative. Or the opposite happens: a negative behavior becomes a positive.

I had an epiphany when I was eighteen. I was eating a (second) second bag of brown sugar Pop-Tarts (no icing, please) right after eating a bunch of pizza in my college’s cafeteria.

I cracked open the bag I thought, “What the hell am I doing? This isn’t going to get me the body I want. Something has to change.”

Things have never been the same since.

Epiphanies are awesome, but they can’t be consciously triggered. You can putz around for years and end up empty handed.

I guess if you maintain interest long enough, you’re more likely to have an epiphany. Someone that’s been scouring the Internet (and books) for ten years straight years, immersing themselves in health and fitness, is more likely to have an epiphany than someone that’s only held interest for one day

If you want to float in a purgatory and cross your fingers for an epiphany, be my guest. Or you can do the smart thing and flush your reliance on motivation down the toilet.

Motivation isn’t a static entity you either have or don’t have. It ebbs and flows because it’s connected to your mood and your thoughts.

I can’t watch the news. It’s too depressing. Child Dies From Parental Neglect. What? How can I focus when people are dying? Wait. Oh no. It’s one of those Sarah McLachlan dog commercials.


I’m going to die anyway. Who cares what I look like. It doesn’t matter. Just inject bacon grease into my intravenously. Get it over with quicker. I hate everything.

You can (should) stop watching the news. Reduce your depressing input. But you can’t hide from everything. Maybe work upsets you. Or someone at work. Or someone you interact with during your day on the way to work. Even family can crawl under your fingernails.

I’m not permanently positive Chris Traeger. You probably aren’t either. Despite the world being filled with miles of beauty in each direction, it only takes is one tiny input to crumble a castle of resolve that takes days (years) to build.

There are too many external variables that influence motivation for it to be of reliable use. It’s like standing on a wobble board because you don’t want to move.

There’s a better way.

→ Click here to read Part 2

It was just another day of algebra before “the incident.” I was looking at the chalkboard. Trying to FOIL. Two girls sitting to my right broke my focus when they started giggling.

I looked over at them. They looked over at me. It was one of those awkward I’m pretty sure you’re laughing at me and looking at me because you want me to know you’re laughing at me but I can’t say anything to you because if you aren’t laughing at me then it makes me look bad because it hints that I feel like I’m worthy enough to be talked about moments.

I broke through my introverted nature (somehow) and asked, “What’s up?”

The alpha female went in close and whispered to her servant. The servant pigeoned her head in my direction. She covered half of her mouth with her hand. She knew the devastation she was about drop was huge. She was doing me a favor. Keeping the blast radius small. Limiting public consumption.

“You have girl boobs,” she said.

Game, set, match. Ego defeated. Walls up. That whole being able to break through introversion and talk to girls? Nope. Gone. Forever. Bye.

anthony mychal skinny-fat

But the girl boob thing wasn’t much of a surprise. I wore an undershirt on gym class days so I didn’t have to show my soft and flabby stomach. I couldn’t do one push-up, let alone one pull-up. I had cheerio sized wrists. Chunky love handles. String bean arms. A sunken upper chest. And, uhhh, oh, yeah, moobs.

It was a combination so elegantly unique that only Emeril Lagasse could have cooked up such a magnificent blend of lanky and muffin top.

I remember watching Comedy Central’s The Man Show. Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corolla were talking about a dude’s physique. They say he’s one of those dudes that looks decent with a shirt on, but, without a shirt, things change.

I couldn’t help but think to myself…oh man, that’s me. I didn’t hear the term “skinny-fat” until I saw an article written for skinny-fat ectomorphs on Kelly Baggett’s website (Higher Faster Sports).

I didn’t know what being a skinny-fat ectomorph entailed, but I immediately identified with the term. I didn’t have much muscle, hence skinny. I had a bunch of fat, hence fat. Made sense to me.

The ectomorph bit comes from the somatotypes, which loosely categorizes people into three distinct body structures.

Somatotypes and Skinny-Fat Syndrome

Endomorphs (leftmost) live on one side of the spectrum. They gain weight easily and have a difficult time staying lean. They are usually short. Just think Wario.

Mesomorphs (center) split the middle and can usually put on muscle fairly well while also staying lean. Just think Mario. Well, the new age cool Mario. Not the old and fat version.

Ectomorphs (rightmost) live on the other side. They are usually thin with longer limbs and have difficulty gaining weight. Just think Luigi.

McFitness loovooovoveesss the somatotypes. People are quick to categorize themselves, too. I’m an ecto! I’m a meso! I’m an alien! 

But the somatotypes weren’t even created for physique or performance purposes, and the vast majority of people don’t fall cleanly into one category.

Categories are man made buckets that don’t really exist. A lot of times, categorization kills, but, well, us humans love to categorize, so let’s pander.

Skinny-fat guys are a cross between ectomorphs and endomorphs, which means skinny-fat dudes have the worst of both worlds.

Even though endomorphs get fat easily, they can usually build muscle. Even though ectomorphs have trouble gaining muscle, at least they are lean. The rich get richer is the appropriate thought to have.

But, all in all, I don’t find much use in the somatotypes. Not only because of that categorization thing, but also because they add no additional color to the picture.

If you’re skinny, you probably have some ectomorphic traits. That is, if your conception of an ectomorph is someone with a smaller bone structure without a lot of muscle. And if you’re fat, you probably have some endomorphic traits. That is, if your conception of an endomorph is someone with a decent amount of body fat.

Skinny-fat ectomorph? Nah. Just skinny-fat.

The reason why people gravitate towards the somatotypes, methinks, is because it provides a rationale as to why they are the way they are, hinting at some sort of genetic predisposition.

But the vast majority of skinny-fat dudes don’t have genetic abnormalities. The use of the word “syndrome” isn’t medically rooted.

Klinefelter syndrome is the closest thing to skinny-fat syndrome, which is when males have extra X chromosome material. After puberty, a skinny-fat body blossoms.

klinefelter syndrome skinny fat

photo: source

Common symptoms of Klinefelter syndrome:

  • Tall stature
  • Feminized physique
  • More breast tissue than normal
  • Wide hips
  • Poor beard growth

Only a professional can diagnose Klinefelter syndrome. From my random musings on the Internet, most parents are recommended to talk to their children about the diagnosis. If you haven’t had said talk, I’m in the dark here otherwise. If you think you might have it, talk to your parents and talk to your doctor. Don’t make up a story in your head.

Because, uhh, I’m almost thirty years old. I still can’t grow a full beard. I’m 6’4″. I have narrow shoulders and wide hips. I had girl boobs. Fuck. Looks like I have to go the doctor.

Another genetic condition that has ties with (but isn’t elusive to or indicative of) skinny-fat syndrome is gynecomastia, which is often shortened to “gyno.”

gynecomastia skinny-fat

photo: source

Lots of guys think they have gyno. But having a bit of fat around the nipple area isn’t exactly gyno. For instance, below is a picture I took from very early on in my own transformation, alongside a picture of Georges St-Pierre.

I show these pictures for two reasons. First, on Georges you can see “puffy nipples” despite an absurdly low body fat. (Some might attribute this look to performance enhancing drugs, of which puffy nipples are  side effect.) Second, on me, you can see how my body fat funneled to the lower chest.

Neither are gyno. Lots of kids get puffier nipples during puberty, but the problem goes away with time. True gyno can only be removed with surgery. Once again, visit a trusted doctor.

skinny fat puffy nipples

So there are some genetic conditions that can be associated with skinny-fat syndrome, but most dudes aren’t skinny-fat because of their genetics.

But if skinny-fat syndrome isn’t genetic, why is it such a unique and identifiable body type? Because your physique is a reflection of how your genes have interacted with your environment.

Our primitive software combined with the first world environment is a perfect stew for skinny-fat syndrome.

Now, I realize we’ve come a long way and I still haven’t really answered the question at hand: how do you know if you’re skinny-fat?

If you identify with anything I’ve written to this point, you can consider yourself skinny-fat. A mile high view of skinny-fat syndrome: a body that’s chosen to get fat instead of muscular. There are many reasons why this decision was made, but it’s useless to think about the past.

A more Anthony Mychal view of skinny-fat syndrome: a body that has a specific body fat problem and a specific muscle mass problem.

Most skinny-fat guys carry their body fat around their lower belly, lower chest, and love handle region. And most skinny-fat guys have a wider hips, narrower shoulders, and a smaller bone structure (think thin wrists).

skinny fat physique a frame

This frame and bone structure lends itself to an “A” frame. Not a lot of muscle in the halo area (shoulders, upper chest, upper back) combined with the narrow shoulders leads to a smaller upper torso. The wider hip and fat distribution in the lower chest, lower belly, and love handles leads to a wider bottom torso.

In other words, perhaps the ultimate test as to whether or not you’re skinny-fat is if you notice some similarities between E.T. and you. That was a mean one, yes, I know. But I can say deliver the blow because I’m not only here to help you turn the wheel in the opposite direction, but also E.T.‘s cousin.

Identifying with the “skinny-fat” idea is one thing. But it’s kind of like saying I’m a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Who cares? It doesn’t matter. You’re still pink on the inside.

This is why you have to dig deeper. Now that you know you’re skinny-fat, what’s next…?


There is a Part 2 to this article in the works. If you want to be the first to know when it drops, signup to my private email list (form below). 

anthony mychal fries cooked

I eat potatoes. A lot of potatoes. It doesn’t stop me from losing fat or building muscle. I used to be afraid of potatoes. Insulin! Something. I don’t know. Whatever.

My favorite way to eat potatoes: as french fries or home fries. I make them at least three times per week with burgers and omelettes.

Here’s the recipe. The difference between french fries and home fries is how to cut the potato. Everything is the same otherwise.

anthony mychal fries oven 540

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Don’t flake on the preheat. It’s not like you’re taking a frozen pizza out of the freezer and throwing it in the oven. These fries require some prep, which means you can give your oven the foreplay it needs to get all hot and bothered while you prep the potatoes.

anthony mychal fries wash potatoes

Gather and wash your potatoes. I like using redskin potatoes. Regular baking potatoes work, too. Experiment. Redskin potatoes have more flavor, which is why I use them.

You can use sweet potatoes, but they won’t finish as crisp. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll almost cut your finger off six times because sweet potatoes aren’t as soft as white potatoes. They’re tougher to cut.

anthony mychal fries cut edges

I cut the east and west edges off the potato first. To the left, I’m making home fries, so I attack the potato horizontally. To the right, I’m making french fries, so I attack the potato vertically.

I cut the edges off because they bulge, and if you leave them on your edge cuts will be twice the thickness as the middle cuts. Make the fries around the same, otherwise some will end up burnt to a crisp, while others will barely be cooked. Even size makes for even cooking.

anthony mychal french fries cut

For french fries, cut the potato vertically every half inch or so. You can make them thicker, but thick things take longer to cook. Don’t make ’em thinner, else they’ll just burn up. For home fries, cut the potato vertically every inch or so.

anthony mychal home fries cut

If you’re a cutting newb, you might want to cut one of the other edges off the potato and then lay the potato on the flat surface created by the cut. The potato won’t roll around while you cut. If you’re not experienced with knives, having things roll around while you’re in charge of a sharp object is no bueno.

But I’m all about speed, so, uhh, I’ll leave that decision up to you. (Hint: if I’m cutting sweet potatoes, I’ll use the flat surface technique.)

anthony mychal fries cut

You’ll end up with circular discs that are around the same width. It’s your call as to how you cut them from here. I usually stack the discs of the same width and cut them together.

anthony mychal french fries and home fries cut

Once your potato is cut, throw the homies or frenchies into a large bowl. (You need a bowl big enough for tossing.) Add the seasoning. You can get creative here. I usually use garlic salt (or regular sea salt). A bigger granule salt works better.

anthony mychal fries seasoning

Then comes chili powder. I consider chili powder to be an essential add. For those that can’t handle spicy foods, know that chili powder is not spicy. I use a lot of chili powder. I finish things off with cayenne pepper. If you like spicy things, go. If you don’t, don’t.

anthony mychal fries seasoned

Sometimes I’ll add some dried parsley and other spices. If I’m making sweet potatoes, sometimes I’ll add cinnamon or nutmeg (even with the cayenne). Play around. Be creative. Experiment.

A lot of people want to know exactly how much salt and spice I use, but that’s a fool’s question. It depends on your own tastes.

anthony mychal fries oil

Drizzle olive oil on top of the spiced potatoes. I’d go one tablespoon per every three or four potatoes, but this will vary depending the size of the potatoes you use. Always start with less because you can add more if needed. As my art teacher used you say: you can always shade darker, so start light.

You can use other forms of lube if you don’t want to use olive oil, just make sure it’s a liquid. So, if you use cow butter or coconut butter, melt the butter first.

Toss your potatoes in the big bowl. Flip the potatoes around the bowl and up into the air. You might lose a soldier or two during this process. Wash him off and throw him back into battle.

The spices should coat every potato, and there shouldn’t be oil left in the bottom of the bowl.

anthony mychal fries baking sheet

Spread the potatoes onto a baking sheet. Avoid overlap between the potatoes as much as possible. This part is a pain, but they cook a lot better this way. Potatoes on top of others will get soggy.

Cook them for around thirty minutes. If you have more than one batch in the oven, it’ll require more time. Less, less time. But for the first time you cook them, check them at 20 minutes and then again at 25 minutes.

You’ll know they are done when the outside gets nice and crispy, but the inside stays soft.

anthony mychal fries cooked

If you have mild overlap of potatoes on the baking sheet, take them out at thirty minutes. The ones on the bottom will be done. Flip the potatoes around a bit with a spatula and cook for another two minutes.

Here’s a recap of the recipe.

  • Preheat oven to 450.
  • Wash and cut potatoes.
  • Put potatoes into a large bowl.
  • Add spices, like salt, chili powder, and cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Add one teaspoon of olive oil (or melted butter or coconut oil) per every 3-4 potatoes. Start with less, add more if needed.
  • Toss the potatoes so that the spice coats.
  • Spread potatoes out on baking sheet.
  • Put in oven for about 30 minutes.
  • Omnonommmononononmooommm.

If you came all this way to know how I eat potatoes without it hurting my physique, it’s easy: I put these fries in my mouth and chew.

Potatoes aren’t the wretched hive of scum and villany people make them out to be. You mustn’t be cautious.

So, if you give these taters a go. Oost ’em up on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Give me a shutout. Bonus points for biceps in the background.

anthony mychal fries biceps

The year is 1945. Winter arrives early in the Netherlands. The weather is unusually severe. Combined with the Nazi blockade, food is in short order.

Some Dutch folk walk ten kilometer to trade their valuables for tulip bulbs. And not because they just finished reading Better Homes magazine and want their front yard to look delish. They’re buying tulip bulbs to eat them.

Nothing tastes as good as dying of starvation feels.

Trying to eat healthier? Complaining about how something tastes? How about you go outside and eat some flowers. How’s that for perspective?

(I typed the sentence as I complained about my hotel’s Internet connection. #domaindependence)

Food rations are down to 580 calories per day. That’s two regular sized Snickers bars. If I do no physical activity save for lying in bed, I need more than 580 calories per day to survive (even sans porn which would potentially possibly maybe might considerably drastically increase my energy expenditure).

Images of children growing up during this time period are haunting. Many people die. Miraculously, some pregnant women survive.

The babies of said pregnant women are studied years later by scientists. They find some interesting links between what’s now known as the Hongerwinter (Hunger Winter) and health.

Turns out, if you were a third trimester fetus during the Hongerwinter, you had increased odds of suffering from obesity and the litany of obesity related dysfunctions, like type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Rerun the tape. Something happening to you a fetus can have a huge effect on you later in life? That’s gotta’ be something genetic right?

It’s about as genetic as your house getting torn apart by a tornado. Because the scientists concluded that these metabolic problems were a direct result of the starvation, and food quality and food quantity are products of the environment. 

So the moral of the Hongerwinter phenomenon, in some way, is that eating less made a bunch of people gain weight. Sounds scary, right? Because 99.9% of fat loss strategies tell you to eat less.

So let’s deconstruct the Hongerwinter phenomenon piece by piece to make sure you don’t end up with a metabolism that functions like Charlie Sheen on a Saturday night.

Envision a car. There’s an immediate fuel tank, but there’s also a bunch of those red fuel canisters in the trunk. Spoiler alert: those red canisters are your fat cells.

You want to empty those red canisters? Alright. Fill up the tank with less fuel, and drive around more. This is how the mechanical model goes, right? Eat less, move more.

But machines don’t care whether or not they run out of fuel. They aren’t living and breathing biological entities, which absolutely do care about their fuel situation. So let’s add a human element to this analogy.

You get kidnapped. Blindfolded. With a gun tickling your temple, a thick Russian accent tells you that your family has been kidnapped. In order to free them you have to drive on a one way road to a certain destination.

You have no idea how long the road is. You have no idea if there are any gas stations on the road. Are you going to be doing donuts and peeling tire? Are you going to let the car idle when you take naps in order to keep the AC on?

The car may have a relatively steady miles per gallon output, but focusing on the logistics ignores adjustments the driver can make in light of the situation at hand.

This fuel is important, so I can’t be wasteful.

Your body (not necessarily your consciousness) is fully aware of its fuel situation. From a biological fitness perspective, no fuel means no life. Do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred dollars.

Oh, would you look at that? I mentioned money. What a fantastic segue because here’s where we begin to replace the mechanical model with the money model (even though I nailed my car analogy).

Your metabolism is less like a machine and more like a financially savvy human handling money. Remember Claire? From accounting? She doesn’t want to go broke. Neither does your body.

So you can relate your conscious financial behaviors to your body’s unconscious resource behaviors. This helps from both a physiological standpoint, and a psychological standpoint.

We’re not here to talk psychology, but just to whet your appetite: everyone knows it’s better to save money, yet everyone buys the new flat screen TV; everyone knows it’s better to eat the broccoli, yet everyone eats the cake. Similarities? Absolutely.

You have an income. Your income is your food intake, which consists of both nutrients and energy. You have expenses. Your expenses are, uhh, vast, to say the least. You beat your heart almost every second. You renew your skin almost every month. Your brain never stops. These aren’t pro bono jobs.

So you have income. You need to spend the money on the stuff that’s going to keep you alive and kicking. But what happens if you have a good paying job and are in good financial standings?

Where do you put extra money? The safest place = your savings account. You could invest it. But there’s a chance of going bust if you invest.


Body fat is your human savings account. If you want to know why my instincts tell me so, you can read this thing I wrote.

Now that we’ve established body fat as a savings account, we can plug back into the Hongerwinter phenomenon.

As a fetus, you’re asking questions about the world you’re about to be squeezed into. During the third trimester, one of the questions you’re asking is: what’s the deal with nutrients and energy on the outside?

If Mom is starving, then you’re starving. So the sensible conclusion: nutrients and energy will be hard to come by. Given you’re biologically programmed to survive, you’re ‘lil fetal self takes this information to heart.

Not a lot of nutrients and energy out there? Then I have to get reallllllyyy efficient with what comes my way. Nothing can be wasted.

In other words, the Hongerwinter phenomenon hints that our body undergoes metabolic adjustments to better survive a nutrient and energy crisis.

Imagine making $50,000 per year. That’s your income. Your expenses add up to $45,000. That’s your mortgage, car payment, utilities, and all of the other things you do for fun to keep you sane (like binge drink on the weekends).

You lose your job. You get a new one. Now you make $10,000 per year. You’re now missing $40,000.

The mechanical model says you maintain your previous lifestyle and automatically cover the full $40,000 with your savings account, but this doesn’t happen because your savings are muy importante. 

You can’t assume your body is going to reach into its savings account (body fat) to cover an income shortage.

You’re going to balance the seesaw as much as possible before you absolve your most precious resource.

Cancel the cable. Turn off the lights. If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down. Sell all the shit in the attic. Unsubscribe to RealityKings. 

Your body wants to maintain a semblance of stasis, but there isn’t one singular nob turned to stop the physiological seesaw from wobbling. (If I wanted to sound smart, I’d mention something about allostasis.

But I already want to punch myself in the face. I’m not a scientist, but I’m sure as hell am doing a good job sounding like one. Maybe. Probably not. Okay. Right. I’m not. Shit. Time to eat some Fruity Pebbles and cry myself to sleep.

You’re doing all this shit to reduce your expenses because, for all intents and purposes, there’s no reason to believe you’re ever going to be making more money. And if you bank roll the missing $40,000 you’re going to run out of savings quick.

There are ways you can adjust your income and expenses in the event of a financial threat. Your body can do the same in the event of a metabolic threat.

Your body can absorb more calories from the food you eat.

Ever bake brownies? You throw a bunch of ingredients into a bowl, mix everything up, and then dump the sludge into a baking pan. But you never really get all of the sludge out of the bowl, do you? Sitting there and using one of those plastic spatulas to scrap the bowl down isn’t worth your time. Unless, of course, you’re starving.

Just because you eat 2000 calories doesn’t mean your body absorbs 2000 calories. Lots of things (gut bacteria, type of macronutrient, quality) influence how much energy you scrape out of the bowl. If you’re starving, you’re going to absorb more energy from the food you eat.

Your body can adjust your unconscious activity levels. 

Your body is replenishing energy throughout the day during non-deliberate exercise (and life) situations. You move and fidget unconsciously. When the temperature outside rises and falls, you sweat and shiver. If you eat less, your body can use less energy but adjusting all of the factors that make up your unconscious non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

You tell your wife to get you another beer instead of walking to the fridge yourself. You get chilly more often because your body isn’t spending the cash to maintain your body temperature.

Your body can sabotage your conscious activity levels. 

A big part of training regularly is having the haunches to train, regardless of whether or not you feel motivation. Because, as anyone in the game will admit, even though there are times when motivation is sky high, there are also times when motivation is drop dead low.

Your body can make you tired, lethargic, and groggy in an attempt to sabotage your voluntary activity levels. And if you aren’t getting energy and nutrients to recover, you’ll feel beat down anyway.

Your body can sabotage your eating behaviors. 

When you eat less, your brain can adjust your satiety mechanism (meaning you don’t feel full as quickly and unconsciously eat more) and hunger mechanism (meaning you feel hungry more often).

As someone that grew up eating whatever whenever with a big appetite, I’ve found that when I maintain a lean physique, I can eat a lot more food in one sitting.

Your body can get rid of metabolically expensive muscle tissue. 

Say you surf through all of the muck above. There comes a point in time when the seesaw will tip, no matter what kind of metabolic adjustments your body is making. In other words, there will come a point when your body won’t be able to compensate downward further.

You will turn into a skeleton and die if you don’t eat…or you will die earlier from some kind of nutrient deficiency or illness.

So say you get your expenses down to $15,000. You’re making $10,000. You’re winning, right?

Maybe. Or maybe not. Because your body doesn’t have to dip into its savings account. Your body can break down muscle tissue (instead of body fat) to cover for the expense.

Breaking down muscle tissue is a win win. Not only does your body get energy from the breakdown, but your body also becomes more energy efficient. First, because bigger creatures need more energy (and you’re becoming smaller). Second, because muscle mass is more metabolically costly than body fat (and you’re losing muscle).

So it’s not that eating less causes weight gain. But eating less (a lot less) triggers metabolic adaptations to better your chance of surviving a world without lots of nutrients and energy.

Which, quite frankly, makes an insane amount of sense. The okie-doke being that Hongerwinter wasn’t permanent. And neither are most diets. The winter season ended, as did the Nazi blockade. Food rations returned to normal.

So a bunch of babies triggered metabolic adaptations towards frugality, which is a fine characteristic to have if you’re trying to make good in a world without lots of resources. In fact, if these kids would have continued to grow in said nutrient deprived world, they probably would have been skinny. But they grew up in a nutrient and energy plentiful world.

So go back to the financial example. You spent the last six months getting your expenses down to $15,000 from $45,000. But whadayaknow, you get your old job back.

So your expenses are still at $15,000 and your income is back at $50,000, meaning you’re ahead $30,000. And, since you’re a fatphillic human, you’re wired to store your excess in your savings account. So what happens? You put a lot of shit into savings.

The metabolic adaptations triggered by an energy crisis can increase the likelihood of you getting fat upon returning to a nutrient plentiful environment.

Most diets fail. It’s a depressing statistic I first head from my nutrition professor in college. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I want to say 90% (or more) of weight loss interventions fail.

But you can dig even deeper and find an even more depressing facet of this statistic: most people that diet and lose weight end up gaining all of their weight back…and more.

You playing Connect Four in your head right now? Because you should now be able to rationalize why most dieters actually get fatter in the long run.

At which point those of you with my level of self-confidence (zero on a scale of one to ten) are playing the following cassette on loop in your head:

“Your body wants to get fat? What? Your body doesn’t want to be lean? Fat loss seems fucking impossible, I quit. This is Shitty McShitpants. Give me the tub of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Buttah Cookie Core. I need to numb myself with an insulin coma.”

And, if that’s the case, I have some good news that goes beyond complimenting you on your ice cream selection because Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Buttah Cookie Core is fire.

You’re right in that the body isn’t keen on losing body fat, but your body accumulates savings under the assumption that it probably will come in handy one day. So your body can and will make it rain under the right circumstances.

The Hongerwinter is an extreme example of what can happen during genuine starvation. So I overplayed the situation a tad. I’m sorry I’m not sorry. The exaggeration is important because most people diet in such a bass ackwards way that the deck is ever not in their favor because they forego the fundamental Truth of weight loss.

Your body doesn’t know the difference between I’m dieting to look sexy and ohmigod I’m starving to death.

Fitness is a survival characteristic. The body gives zero fucks about what modern beauty culture says a fit body is supposed to look like.

There’s a big difference between making $50,000 and then making $10,000 versus making $50,000 and then making $40,000. You know this intuitively from a financial standpoint. You can envision the situation; parallel it to your physiology.

And, unlike Hongerwinter and “shit happening,” there is no genuine starvation. You’re in control of the situation with a more robust physiological blueprint in hand.

So, if you have your wits about you, you can minimize metabolic damage and stack the deck in your favor.

Now’s about the time where you’re expecting said wits, but this is more of the philosophical thought piece. You can read a similar article I referenced heavily from Precision Nutrition for some of their thoughts, but mine differ, naturally, else I would have just linked you to this article and saved you my nonsense.

The point of this article (and the previous one) was simply to peel back a layer on how a distorted perception of how the body works — a broken model — can sabotage good intentions.

I’m sure people that go on very low calorie diets (VLCDs), juice leanses, and detoxes have good intentions. I’m sure those that switch to a bulking phase immediately after a cut are only trying their best.

I’m sure those that drop calories insanely low after hitting a fat loss plateau because teh numbers!!11!1!1 aren’t adding up.

Yoyo dieting stints.


This human software of yours was built to work without your consciousness. It works fantastically. It keeps us alive. The Hongerwinter is a great example. The world is shitty, your body does whatever it can to survive.

I’m sure all of those people don’t want to whack out their metabolism like Charlie Sheen. But shit like that bound to happen when you’re opening up hood of a car and thrashing without any idea who or why or whatever…essentially trying to fix a car with the wrong (or no) instructions.

As usual, when you appreciate body for smart biological thingie, with sphincters, you’re in a better place. Fat loss may seem daunting, deck stacked against, but don’t compare yourself to the schmucks that don’t know what they are doing.

You’re flirting against biology. No one said this shit ain’t easy. Smooth seas never make for skilled sailors. Cliche/

Imagine rocketing a dog into the vacuum of Space towards inevitable doom. Awesome. Dogs are gross. Cats are better.

But we’ll give Laika revenge now. Ghost Laika crams a human into a space shuttle and rockets it towards the Eagle Nebula.

I wouldn’t mind going to the Pillars of Creation. I’m tempted to let Ghost Laika shove me into the rocket. But I’m not ready for the inevitable physical meltdown that happens when a human lives in zero gravity.

Ever see astronauts return from long Space mission? They need a wheel chair to move around. The zero gravity environment melts their body like fondue. Even if you’re minimally active on earth, you don’t need no stinkin’ wheelchair. 

You’re a solid hunk of havarti (such a good cheese). Pair you with some 90% (or higher) dark chocolate and glass of merlot and I’ll never leave you, baby.

There’s an enemy on earth that doesn’t exist in Space: gravity.

Gravity is easy for us to ignore because it’s a constant medium. I’d imagine it’s like water to a fish, but I can’t say for sure. My meeting with Princess Ruto inside of Jabu-Jabu’s belly was cancelled. Haven’t talked to any other fish since.

Let’s make gravity less easy to ignore by giving it a face.

Imagine being a weird reverse marionette doll. Imagine drilling ropes into every one of your joints, and then having those ropes attach to the ground. Now imagine having your sadistic friends tug downward on those strings.

The downward tug = gravity.

There was a Criminal Minds episode where a wacko guy turned a girl into a marionette doll, drilling holes into her joints. Video games are making kids violent, I forgot.

Earth’s gravity is relatively mild. Head to Jupiter and you’ll be hit with seriously sadistic friends, pulling downward with a force 2.4 times greater than the weirdos on Earth.

Gravity is important, but your body can still become fondue on earth.

Ever broken a bone? Been in a cast? Or known someone in a cast? Then not only have you inhaled one of the worst smells known to the human race, the accumulation of humid dead rotting human skin, but you’ve also witnessed the terrifying obliteration of muscle mass that rides shotgun to inactivity.

The more inactive you become, the quicker the muscle melts.

  1. Want to lose leg muscle mass? Use crutches.
  2. Want to lose muscle mass faster? Use a wheelchair.
  3. Want to lose muscle mass fastest? Put your entire lower body in a cast so there’s absolutely no way it can be moved.

As Andy Stitzer, the character played by Steve Carell in The 40-Year Old Virgin, would ask: is it true that if you don’t *use* it, you *lose* it?

Apparently so. Crazy. My parents have fine china they never used when I was growing up. But it’s still there. Ah, the beauty of being a living, breathing, biological entity.

You need to oppose gravity. You need to push against the marionette strings. If the marionette strings staple you down without a fight, you’re no better off than an astronaut in Space.

Resisting gravity is a physiological trigger. It tells your body, “Hey, uhh, see what I’m doing here? Me being able to move around is important. So if you can keep up with the mechanisms, gears, and levers allowing me to move, that’d be grrrreeeaattt. Also, I need those TPS reports on my desk by tomorrow.”


You need this trigger because keeping up with said mechanisms (especially muscle mass) isn’t cheap, and your body is a frugal bitch accountant jerk face.

Without the trigger? Why would your body spend the money? Spin the wheel of optionality.

The flip side of optionality requires me to reach into my bag of shameful and offensive examples.

Look at prisoners of war during WWII. You won’t see much muscle mass. But you will see a bunch of guys swinging around axes and shovels. They’re certainly opposing gravity, yet they have little in the way of muscle mass.

I’m guessing you’re using your eyeballs to read this. Your eyes are capable of seeing 500 shades of gray (not 50, EL James). They’re capable of processing 36,000 pieces of information in an hour.

Take those eyeballs and use them to look down at your hand. Your hand is a structure made up of close to thirty bones and over one hundred ligaments controlled by nearly fifty electrical wires that can fire with choking violence or tickling tenderness.

It’s easy to forget about the amazingly complex biomachinery underneath your skin. None of it works pro bono.

You need resources. If you aren’t getting a lot of resources, your body prioritizes things that are more essential to survival. Beating your heart is more important than having big muscles.

You need to trigger the need for muscle mass. But you also need to have enough resources around so that your body feels comfortable justifying the expense of muscle tissue.

Building muscle is kind of like buying a boat. You need to be in a financially secure enough spot to know (a) you have enough money for the upfront investment, and (b) you have enough money for the continued investment. Because boats suck and always need maintenance work.

This is why people go on bulks to build muscle. They eat a ton of food to convince the body it has the resources it needs. But most people screw up their bulks.

And by “most people,” I mean, Anthony. Because I used to eat Kansas, build next to no muscle, and add a lot of body fat.  But let’s just say delivering enough resources isn’t the same as winning the lottery.

But that’s a story for another day, alongside why people get confused when I say strength training is important even when cutting. Why strength train if you aren’t going to have the raw materials around to build muscle? I’ll let you think it over. We have to move on.

So now you’re now probably wondering (and if you weren’t, you are now): I’m a human. I move. I eat. Why don’t I have a lot of muscle?

If you’re skinny and lean like Toothpick Timmy, maybe you aren’t eating enough. Common. But there’s also my neck of the woods, which is where guys like Skinny-Fat Sal live.

If you have a decent amount of body fat, then you most certainly have been eating enough. Granted, you might not be enough of the right things, and too much of the wrong things. But what’s more likely (and most likely for both Toothpick Timmy and Skinny-Fat Sal) is that your body doesn’t feel like it needs more muscle.

You might not have a lot of muscle mass compared to the standard swirling in your head, but you probably have more than Gertrude withering away in hospice care.

Your body only builds the muscle it needs. Muscle is a risky investment and your body is frugal. So building excess muscle tissue without the need for excess muscle tissue is kind of like buying a six story house when you’re quadriplegic.

The muscle mass you have helps you tolerate gravity, but the stress of gravity never scales upward. It’s kind of like going from zero to one cups of coffee per day. You get a good buzz from the one cup. But your body adapts to the caffeine, at which point you need to have two cups.

But gravity is always “one cup.” It’s always 9.8 meters per second squared. So you get all of the goodness that comes from adapting to one cup, but you can’t bump up to two cups.

You can find ways to make things interesting within the one cup confines (like drinking it faster), but it’s not quite the same as bumping up to two cups. The stress isn’t the same.

“Stress” doesn’t mean “psychological distress,” which what most of us think when we hear “stress.” Stress is more than being stuck in traffic and gnawing on your steering wheel as blood floods down your face from your eye sockets.

In physics, stress means, “force per unit area applied to the material.” This definition doesn’t help us at all, but I sound smarter if I pretend to understand physics.

Your body strives to maintain stasis. Stress is strain on your level of stasis, which sounds bad. Strain parts of your car and they break down. Broken cars make you spend money, and spending money on cars is lame. High school kids tricking out Honda Civics are the perfect population for for eugenic experimentation.

But humans aren’t mechanical like cars. Humans are biomechanical. We’re able to maintain ourselves, fix ourselves, and upgrade ourselves. One of the ways we know what to maintain, fix, and upgrade is via stress.

You get new breaks on a car when the breaks are all stressed and worn out. Stress is biological information.

Climb on top of your car. Jump off and absorb the impact from the landing. Your body will be exposed to a stress much higher than gravity, but the information coded within that sort of stress rarely triggers for more muscle mass.

We foolishly reduce the complex phenomenon of movement into muscle because (a) it’s the visible manifestation of something non-visible: a bunch of junk inside of you working together to allow you to accomplish a physical task, and because (b) we’ve been exposed to decades of bodybuilder split routine logic.

But muscle is just a middle man. Muscles funnel into tendons, which funnel into bones, which articulate with other bones, which are reinforced with ligaments, which are all at the mercy of the nervous system, which has ties with the endocrine system, which…

Your ability to move is a little more complex than what high school anatomy taught you. (Abstinence is the key, folks!)

Let’s look, instead, from a movement perspective.

You can contract. You can relax. Those are your extremes. Any macromovement is a combination of the two. Total relaxation, you can’t move. Total contraction, you can’t move.

And, for some extraterrestrial reason, us humans have this musculoskeletal system thingy with elastic properties that allows us to move with some fluidity.

Think of a robot. It moves in segments. It’s clunky. Still modulated by contraction and relaxation. But there’s no grace.

Movements more machine-like are steeped in contraction, which are best described as sticky. Grindy. Friction. In order to be sticky, you have to contract.

Movements more fluid-like are steeped in relaxation, which are best described as springy. Bouncy. Ballistic. In order to be springy, you have to relax.

For reasons I can’t explain (but will try to because I like sounding smarter than I am), muscle mass is more of a sticky stress adaptation. And most of the things you do aren’t sticky from an absolute max effort standpoint.

Meaning you could walk up steps slowly like a robot, but you also could leap and bound up those same steps.

If you can spring with control and power, you have stickiness. Babies and kids spring all over the place, but don’t have much control because they lack the stickiness.

But all of this might be easier to understand if we look at the upper body. We take our lower body for granted because it already carries us through the stress of earth’s gravity.

But what if we started to use our hands as feet?

If you were able to get into a handstand, you probably wouldn’t be able to do clapping handstand push-ups right away. You’d have to work through lots of sticky training (holding the handstand, handstand push-ups) before you’d be able to tap into your springs.

How wonderful to have elastic bits to help us save energy. But think about this for a second. Only able to tap into elastic and spring because we’re comfortable from a stick standpoint.

So a good marker for whether or not the movement you’re doing is going to trigger for more muscle mass is this: can you be springy or leave the surface of the earth during the movement in question?

If you can be ballistic or leave the surface of the earth to a great degree, chances are you aren’t going to build muscle doing whatever you’re doing. You probably have the pre-requisite stickiness, meaning you have an amount of muscle your body deems to be “enough.”

If you’re lifting a two pound dumbbell slowly, the motion might look sticky…but if you tried hard, you could throw the dumbbell across the room. So guess what? Not gonna’ build muscle.

So all of the high rep, low weight toning lure? I’ll let you connect the dots on that one.

Scaling springiness isn’t a good trigger for muscle probably because nature says big creatures don’t handle shocks well. An elephant won’t survive a fall of half it’s height. An ant can survive a fall from the moon. The biggest cats are the most nimble cats. Cheetahs aren’t yoked.

So it’s kind of like having bad shocks on your car, taking it to a mechanic, and being told, “Yeah your shocks are ruined. But here’s how we’re going to handle this: we’re going to build a bigger, heavier engine. Meaning the shocks will have to do even more work!”

There’s a sweet spot between muscle mass and explosive-springy-elastic performances. You need enough sticky-muscle to support the springiness, but not so much that it becomes a hindrance.

So how do you build more muscle? Get in a supergravity environment that forces you to move with all sorts of stickiness.

You can walk up the steps sticky and slow right now, but you also could leap and bound up the steps. The stress to trigger for muscle mass needs to be an honest I couldn’t move faster even if I tried stickiness.

There are ways many ways to apply this sort of stress. You can use bands. You can swim. You can use machines.

All valid options…if you want to end up skinny-fat. Or, at least, skinny.


→ Click here to read Part 2

You can feel the burn on machines, man! So much safer than circular hunks of iron! Right? So if you can feel your muscles work, why do (unsafe) barbell thingy?

(This is Part 2 of an article series. You can read Part 1 here.)

Too often we are victims of reductionism. Take something big and complex. Reduce to pieces. Example always used = clock.

Want to understand how clock works? Take apart. Look at bits and pieces. Understand how they work in isolation. Then you’ll know how they work together. Boom.

But can you take apart a cloud? Can you understand a cloud based on behavior of its smaller components in isolation? No. This = emergence. Aristotle even knew…whole greater than the sum of the parts.

This = why machine training is bologna. Especially for skinny-fat dude. Or dude not on favorable side of muscle building genetics.

Training = stressor. Two factions…

Local stress. Strain on the immediate structures. Flexing your biceps as hard as you can. Lots of local stress.

Global stress is strain on you…as an organism. The nervous system that contracts your biceps is the same nervous system that controls your hand when using a pencil.

Every movement delivers a local hit (to the muscles and structures directly involved) as well as a global hit (to the entire organism).

Flu. Entire body goes out of whack (fever-global), but there’s also a specific response to the thing that’s doing the damage (antibodies-local).

Or, better yet, when someone touches an ice cube to the small of your back. You don’t just sit there and say, “The small of my back is cold.” The cold causes a widespread bodily freako response. You flinch. You get goosebumbs all over your body from the cold. You breathe quicker.

Global response runs deeper than any of us (including me) realize. As Buddy Morris, former mentor of mine, once said:

The stress of training is greater than that of a broken bone because it encompasses the entire system. It encompasses the cardiac, cardiopulmonary, detoxification, hormonal, metabolic, central nervous system, neuromuscular, and […] immune system.

That’s all affected by training. And those systems do not recover at the same time.

Crossover effect: if you have an injured limb, training the uninjured limb also strengthens (or retains strength within) the injured limb.

Pavel Tsatsouline recommends training midsection and your grip if you’re taking a trip and don’t have lots of equipment available to retain your overall strength.

Charlie Francis had his sprinters do heavy bench pressing a few days prior to a sprinting competition to keep legs strong without stressing them directly.

All examples of how training affects your entire body globally, as an organism.

Machine training…? Eliminates global stress. Something special about moving and controlling your body through gravity and spacetime.

Earth existence = barbell training. Stand up from toilet. Work against gravity. But could be a barbell on another planet. Imagine on Jupiter, standing up from the same toilet. You weigh 220-pounds here, you’d weigh 529-pounds on Jupiter.

Sit on the Earthly toilet, load up a barbell with 309-pounds, and then put the barbell on your back. Jupiter living conditions. Now stand up.

Crushing force imposed on your body from head to toe every second of every day. Barbell training delivers that same crushing force, only under supergravity conditions. Instead of standing up and opposing just gravity, you stand up and oppose gravity plus. Hyperbolic Time Chamber, you say?

You often hear people call exercises “the king of ___,” meaning the exercise is Super Effective! and delivers the best bang for your buck.

Squat is the king of the lower body lifts. The king of the upper body lifts waivers between the weighted chin-up and the weighted dip. Why?

Chin-up and dip are unique. Normally, your arms aren’t supporting structures. Simply dangle from shoulder-blades. Don’t support your bodyweight like your legs do.

But when you do chin-ups and dips? They become the lone contact point for your entire body. They become the support structures. They become more like your lower body. And your lower body has stronger bones and bigger muscles than you upper body because they have to deal with the constant demand of gravity.

All these are loaded with gravity.

  • Gravity = vertical.
  • In a squat, gravity + barbell = vertical.
  • In a chin-up, gravity + weight = vertical.
  • In a dip, gravity + weight = vertical.

Structures you want stressed are responsible for handling the crushing stress.

Not saying other exercises useless. But not same.

Deadlift is useful. But barbell held in arms. Meaning grip important factor. And if legs are meant to be stressed most, can’t be bottle necked by grip.

Machines don’t load the body with this same crushing force. Machines often loaded horizontally, so the high stress crushing environment is gone.

Machines also guide your body through space for you. Stand up. Close your eyes. Now lift one leg in the air and balance on the other. Feel how your entire body fires to maintain balance and keep things stable.

Now do the same, only hold onto a door nob. I’ll let you figure out the differences between the two.

Machines are usually advertised as a safer alternative. It’s True…for the most part. Sometimes logistics screwy, like fact that I’m 6’4″ and using the same machine pathway as someone 5’2″.

But it’s kind of like advertising a skydiving video game as a safer alternative to skydiving itself. The safeness defeats the point. In some respect, good precisely because dangerous.

Machine training is like having a fly buzz around your face. It’s annoying. You might mobilize a bit. Try to swat the thing. But that’s about all.

Compare to having a wasp buzz around your face. It’s scarier. You mobilize a bit more. Leave your seat if its swarming close.

Compare to a black bear bursting through the clear and sprinting towards you. You poop your pants. Yell, “Yeehaw!” as you break for a clearing if for no other reason than to have you last words be “Yeehaw!

Would make for a good news headline at least. “Man killed by black bear, yells ‘Yeehaw!’ before death.”

As stress scales up, body does more to deal with threat. More threatening = more adaptation.

Upgrades are expensive. In order for your body to feel justified in investing in more muscle tissue (or a better movement system), it has to think, “If I don’t invest, my survival will be compromised.”

A strong (yet controlled) threat = justification.

McFitness ploys strip movements and exercises from the global response because they try to be “safer.”

Machines are popular because they are easy. You can read directions and use them. So don’t have to pay $$$ for coaches. Also don’t lose time where coaches teach you. People can move in and out of the gym with speed, and when more people move in and out you make more money.

Just like McDonald’s. Machines are food for those that just trying to get by, not food for those that want…more.

In general, exercises that have low global impact are for the birds. This is why methods like dynamic tension by Charles Atlas didn’t quite prove effective.

Machines aren’t totally useless though. Retracting my thesis like a boss! Their global drawback can be a positive. Bodybuilder want to focus a ton on muscle contraction. Can do because less global strain.

So, in my broad spectrum, machines are side dish. Not main course. Typically need global catalyst for adaptation. Beyond, there’s wiggle room.

But useful to qualify: in my system, the purpose of barbell training is to load the body with supergravity stress.

Ways to do this with just bodyweight training at first.

If you stand on one leg, then the leg you’re standing is dealing with more gravitational stress than its used to. Probably build a little bit of muscle working through.

But the lower body generally has enough muscle. Can already jump (spring). The upper body has much more potential for bodyweight growth.

Pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, dips, handstand push-ups…all of these will be sticky for most people at first because arms aren’t naturally weight bearing structures.

But there will come a point when scaling these bodyweight movements is tricksy, precious.

One-arm chin-ups need to follow progression. Easier to roll into weighted chin-ups for quicker (muscular) results. One-arm push-ups rarely held back by arm strength, more like torso strength.

Gymnastics strength training fun and good, but veers away from supergravity flavor. Straight-arm strength exercises (levers and planches) at the mercy of torque. Torque is lethal.

Not saying these are worthless pursuits. I love them. But not same effect as barbell training. Qualify ethos (load the body with supergravity stress) because barbell not the end all be all.

There are no Capsule Corp. inspired supergravity chambers to apply constant supergravity stress across entire body. Have to use some kind of external resistance. The barbell makes this happen.

But barbell confines movement by nature of application, have to contort self to this linear straight object. Being stuck in a linear plane is fine…if you’re only out to build muscle.

Body can move lots of ways beyond barbell. Wrist, ankles — need work from many different positions. Mobility also important.

Now, go any further would take us into weeds of my training and programming philosophy. Not the point of this, even though it may be (will be) necessary…in the future.

Questions still may linger –

  • Toning
  • Rest between sets
  • Tempo

But I’ve already went on so long even I want to stab myself in the eye with a fork. And need/want to start clean w/ programming.

Point for past two articles = importance of supergravity stress for muscle mass and improving system as a whole.

And, when you see through fluff, muscle mass merely a side effect of moving your body through space and overcoming certain flavor of stress. Don’t really train for muscle growth. Move body certain way, muscle mass is byproduct.


I also realize this is incomplete. Without the right hormones, muscle building tough even with supergravity stress. But good enough…

And general idea being…

As skinny-fat guy (or skinny guy for that matter), body not convinced it needs much muscle. So you have to use powerful ways of convincing.

Barbell and bodyweight do better job.

On any given Sunday night, you’ll find me shoving junk food down my esophagus to ignite an insulin induced coma.

All of my #firstworldproblems fade as my body shunts blood flow to my intestines and away from my brain in an attempt to prioritize digestion and (feebly) deal with the bolus of food crashing it’s way towards my colon.

A nutrition professor at Kansas State University named Mark Haub ate nothing but junk food for ten weeks, but for an entirely different (and even more outlandish) reason: to lose weight.

And he did.

Haub lost a total of 27 pounds over those 10 weeks.

His specific strategy went something like this:

Eat assorted Hostess and Little Debbie pre-packaged cream filled somehow stay fresh forever snack cakes every three hours. He mixed in Doritos and other junk food. Because, variety.

Haub was out to prove that weight gain and weight loss wasn’t about eating healthy. It wasn’t about how many meals you ate, or how frequently you ate. Nor was it about when you ate what.

It was about one thing.

Energy balance.

The energy balance model of body composition is now commonplace. You won’t get far without seeing some mention of calories — the protagonist of the energy balance model — or the energy balance rally cry: just eat less and move more!

If you don’t know what calories are, don’t worry. You will soon enough, because I gots beef that needs acookin’ with the energy balance model. (I’m sure the OG Pirates crossing the Atlantic got somethin’ to say about it, too.)

The energy balance model is…meh.

For instance, you might have heard body fat is a result of an energy surplus. You might also have heard muscle mass requires an energy surplus. So, uhh, what’s the deal?

Likewise, you might have heard losing fat requires an energy deficit. A common recommendation is to eat 500 calories less than you burn on a daily basis. But why? Why not eat 1000 calories less? Or 1500 calories less?

Your body is a smart adaptive creature. Trying to understand a complex phenomenon like body composition solely with numbers is…lol. And, no surprise, the numerical approach usually ends up sabotaging those wielding it as their main weapon as they walk into battle.

You’ll understand why soon enough. But I might as well start by keeping my original promise.

Let’s find out how to eat Doritos, Twinkies, and other assorted junk food in order to lose weight.

Think of a car. A car parked in your driveway is energy. All matter is energy. Haven’t you taken physics? A car’s parts and whatnot can (and will) be broken down and transformed into other sorts of energy by Mother Nature and Father Time.

Us humans are no different. We’re strange flesh covered moist machines, but, really, we’re really just an organized packet of energy. When we die, our skin, bones, and reproductive organs (!) will undergo a magnificent feat of cosmic recycling.

How wonderful of you to be so environmentally friendly! You must feel proud to do the universe such a favor! You must drive a Prius!

Your eyeball could very well be recycled cosmic matter from Plato’s penis. Likewise, your penis could very well be recycled cosmic matter from Plato’s brain, meaning you’re one smart dickhead.


It’s one thing to be energy.

It’s another thing to need energy.

A parked car is energy, but it doesn’t need energy…until you turn the key in the ignition. The car needs a certain amount of energy to turn on and stay on.

Humans, once again, are no different. But our relationship with energy input and energy output is broken because it’s informed by McFitness propaganda.

A lot of people think that when we’re in the gym huffing and puffing (or doing any kind of exercise) our engine is on, but when we aren’t doing those things our engine is off. Exercise, on. Non-exercise, off.


Gringo buzz.

According to Dr. Peter Attia, if your body stops recycling energy for just one second, you die. So humans are always using and recycling energy…unless they’re dead.

You’re obviously not dead. At least, I hope you aren’t dead. Because then I’m dead, too. Is this a parallel universe? Mom…? Dad…? They’re here.

poltergeist girl with scary clownYou’re using energy when you sit on the couch and watch TV…even if you sit for so long the fabric of the couch melts into your biology and becomes another body part.

Our body does things we don’t have to think about. But now I’m asking you to think about those things your body does that you don’t have to think about. (I’m more confused now than when I tried to read Gödel, Escher, Bach.)

  • Your heart beating.
  • Your brain thinking.
  • Your kidneys filtering.
  • Your intestines digesting.

These processes aren’t free. Your brain churns through 20–25% of the energy you use at rest. Digesting food? Another 10–15% of your energy use.

Meaning if you burn 2000 calories in one day, your brain and intestines account for 600 of those calories (as a conservative estimate).

Not only do these processes require energy, but they’re also essential processes. Meaning, without them, you die.

You may not be macromoving, which is to say: moving to the visible eye. But you are very much micromoving. Take a look at yourself under a microscope. You cells are partying like it’s 1999.


From a macromovement standpoint, there are different gradients.

Being sedentary is like idling in the driveway. You need energy, but not a lot. Being mildly active is like taking a relaxing joyride. Being really active is like hopping on the Autobahn. The higher your output, the more energy you need.

And that’s what it’s all about: output. Sometimes we output more. Sometimes we output less. But we always output. And output demands intake. Doesn’t matter if we’re parking in a driveway or driving on a parkway.

Something needs to support our output, otherwise we run out of energy, die, and become food for the raccoon living in the backyard.

For millions of years, humans knew they had to eat. They probably didn’t understand much about the who, what, when, or why. But they were smart enough to listen to their gut.

Or maybe they weren’t. Maybe they thought they were Birddddddmmmaaan. And so they sat in the sun to satisfy their hunger. And then they died. Natural selection at its finest.

Most of us living through our #firstworldproblems don’t connect our consciousness to the psychedelic reality: if you don’t eat, you die.

Hungry? Then you should probably find something to eat. Not hungry? Then history says you will be hungry soon. So you still should probably find something to eat.

It seems bonkers, but guess what?

Humans were fine.

They were able to handle the relationship between input and output by using wonderful internal feedback mechanisms we still have to this day, like hunger pangs, food cravings, and satiety loops.

But science has given us the insight to move beyond the [eat-live | starve-die] reality. Food isn’t magic anymore. Food is a number. Food is calories.

Calories are the main character of the energy balance story, and they’re used to measure and quantify intake and output.

Many people think calories are “fattening” or “sugar” or so it would appear based on those hidden camera TV shows.

Guy asks, “Do you count calories?” Person replies, “Absolutely.” Guy asks, “What’s a calorie?” Person replies, “Me like for you to cheese unicorn turtle.” (Kind of like how most people handle gluten these days.)

But calories are measurement of energy, much like a degree is a measurement of temperature.

Calories weaseled their way into the food industry when some totally (in)sane person put food inside of a contraption known as a bomb calorimeter.

The calorimeter lit the food on fire (or something), which allowed said (in)sane person to calculate the energy content within foods.

Standardized energy values for food were born for the three primary macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. One gram of each of these macronutrients always had a certain caloric value.

  • Protein = 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbohydrate = 4 calories per gram.
  • Fat = 9 calories per gram.

You can also factor alcohol in the mix, as one gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. And if you’re in the paleo crowd, I’m sure there’s something worth mentioning about exogenous ketones, but I’m not going there because I’m not so sure I know how to go there.

I should mention the difference between “calories” and “Calories” to prevent trolls from coming of their troll hole and asking for the troll toll so they are able to pay their way into the boy’s soul.

The “calories” you’re familiar with are big c Calories. Technically big c Calories are kilocalories, or 1000 small c calories.

For practical purposes, you can ignore everything written in the last paragraph. And if you’re not American, you might measure food energy in joules. I’m going to do the American thing and pretend like the world revolves around me.

Knowing the calorie value of food brings on the idea that we can calculate our energy input, so let’s get to calculating our energy output.

Say you do nothing but breathe. You lie in bed and breathe. That’s all. The amount of energy your body needs to make this happen is known as basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) comes next. RMR is less restrictive than BMR. It includes thing you do daily, like getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed.

Beyond RMR is daily energy expenditure (DEE). DEE is me shoving a fork in my eye because this shit is starting to get confusing.

Point being: there are calculators that we can use to find our output, which means we now have both input and output available to us.

Enter the Haub-ian inspired fat loss strategy: balance your energy intake with your energy output.

  • Energy intake > Energy output = Surplus, gain and store energy
  • Energy output > Energy intake = Deficit, loss and use stored energy

These are the rules.

And I hate them.

Okay. You got me. Hate might be an overly aggressive word, but the energy balance story is, I have to imagine, like herpes. You want to pretend like it doesn’t exist, even though, deep down, you know its not going away anytime soon.

I’m not stupid enough (thankfully) to argue against the laws of thermodynamics. I’m also not stupid enough (thankfully) to believe the energy balance story is of much use.


I should say: I’m not stupid enough to believe our interpretation of the energy balance story is of much use. Because it’s not long before the logic above is combined with a little factoid; one pound of body fat contains 3500 calories.

Enter the strategy.

You have a certain metabolic rate. You calculate output.

You eat a certain amount energy. You calculate intake.

You tip the energy balance scale in your favor, being in a deficit of whatever amount of calories daily. If you need 2500 calories and you eat 1500 calories, then you’re at a daily deficit of 1000 calories.

Time passes and you lose fat at identical perfect increments because, by all numerical logic, there’s no rationale for any scenario otherwise.

The interpretation of the energy balance model is very straight and mechanical. We understand this kind of logic, which why most minds are already twisting around the idea.

Simplicity is beauty, right? Steve Jobs said so. And it he did everything in his life picture perfect, including being an absent father.

Unfortunately, the mechanical interpretation of the energy balance story fails because humans are biomechanical, which already sound scary enough to stop reading. I prefer the term wiggly as inspired by Alan Watts.

The physical world is wiggly. Clouds, mountains, trees, people, are all wiggly. And only when human beings get at working things, they build buildings in straight lines and try and make out that the world isn’t really wiggly. But here are we, sitting in this room all built on straight lines, but each one of us is as wiggly as all get-out.

-Alan Watts

The most efficient way to get from one point to another is a straight line…in a mechanical world. But, in a biomechanical world, sometimes wiggly lines are more efficient than straight lines.

The behind the neck pull-up and the behind the neck press are both straight line lifts compared to their more wiggly bar path in front of the neck versions. But the wiggly versions are more efficient.

There are no straight lines in your body. Your bones, your muscles, your organs. All wiggly. And the energy balance story is no different.

The implementation of the energy balance model described above is flawed from the start. Calculating your intake and output is a guessing game most people fail. And as much as I’d like to dive into that now, I’m going to take the indirect route.

Hop on a P-Wing with me to the year 1945.

→ Click here to read Part 2

Flat bench press is popular. Macho. Compare penis size.

How much ya bench?

But popular doesn’t mean effective…or most effective

Illusory effect: more we see, more we believe True…even if not True.

Bench popular because powerlifting.

For clarity’s sake…

Powerlifting: a sport where athletes compete in the (a) bench press, (b) squat, and (c) deadlift to see who can lift the most weight across all three lifts.

Are you powerlifter?

If no…

Why flat benching? Or bench pressing at all? For aesthetics?

Most dudes want (and lack) upper boobies.

Angle of press relative to torso changes chest activation. Consider a press at 90 degrees relative to torso (perpendicular) to be tare.

press angle upper chest muscle activation

Go above 90 degrees, you’re more upper chest…for a bit. But then you reach point where shoulders take most load. Go below 90 degrees, you’re more lower chest.

People get confused…

Flat bench press with back arch (common technique) is NOT pressing at 90 degrees. More like pressing below 90 degrees, which shifts emphasis to lower boobies.

bench press angle upper chest

Most dudes want (and lack) upper boobies. So why flat bench press?

Stop comparing penis size. Swallow ego. Stop all flat benching.

Unnecessary and counter productive.

Instead, do incline presses. Best angle for upper boobies is thirty degrees. Higher is okay, but will be more shoulders.

Don’t arch lower back too much. Try keeping neutral spine.

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to subtract whatever is contributing to the problem.