Once you complete Phase 1, the training get’s harder but the diet get’s a lot easier.
Ideally, you will be training 5-6 days a week rather than 3-4 and you will train up to 2 hours each day.
We will cycle training programs that focus on intensity, volume and frequency and experiment with different training methods to see which muscles respond to certain training methods.
You will be able to eat more food because of the following reasons:
- You’re training harder and more often so you burn more calories during your training.
- Your metabolism is higher because of increased muscle mass.
- Your hormones and nutrient partitioning are improved so your body is better at utilising food for muscle gains.
- Your goal is to gain muscle mass so you can be in a slight caloric surplus rather than deficit.
This all adds up… Instead of eating 2000 calories a day, you may be able to eat 2800 calories per day (or more) and these calories will fill up your muscles with glycogen and energise you for more rigorous training sessions.
Gaining Muscle Mass In The Right Places
During Phase 2 we focus on adding muscle mass in the:
- Upper and inner chest.
- Upper and medial back.
- Lats (We target both the upper and lower part of your lats for maximum growth).
- Shoulders. (We target all 3 shoulders heads for maximum growth).
- Triceps. (We target all 3 triceps heads for maximum growth).
- Biceps. (We target both biceps heads for maximum growth).
We want to create the illusion of wide shoulders, build a square chest and finish off the physique with powerful arms.
The Muscles We Avoid Training Too Much
While we target the right muscles, we keep the work on the following muscles to a minimum:
- Traps: Big traps take away from the width of your shoulders since they grow vertically (up).
- Lower chest: A big lower chest makes your chest look feminine and “saggy” rather than square and masculine. Most guys with muscular chests have an overdeveloped lower chest.
- Legs: Big legs don’t look great and make it difficult to buy jeans.
- Abs: Just like any other muscle, abs can grow too. When you have big abs you thicken your waist and take away from the V-taper look that is a result of a small waist and wide shoulders.
These are the muscles that tend to grow a lot when you do your typical Starting Strength or 5×5 program.
For skinny guys with tiny waists, good bone structures and decent genetics, it is fine to grow these muscles, but it’s not optimal for skinny-fat men because we already have a very difficult time creating an aesthetic physique.
When you have naturally bad proportions, the last thing you want to do is to add mass in the wrong places, since that takes away from al lot of the good work you put into gaining mass in the arms, upper chest and so on.
This is also why we don’t do traditional strength exercises such as the deadlift, squat and the flat bench press:
- Deadlifts and squats thicken the waist and make your traps and legs big.
- Flat bench presses target the lower chest and thereby create a disproportional chest with a feminine “triangle shape”.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you will end up looking like captain-upper body with no legs.
We will still train the legs, but we will use mostly machines and bodyweight exercises to prevent injuries and we will switch to very high reps in the case that your legs start getting too big for your liking.
Now, some of you may also wonder about the lower chest… Won’t it get too small?
The lower chest cannot get too small, since literally no one has an upper chest that is too big compared to their lower chest.
The reasoning for this is that you cannot isolate your chest completely, you can only emphasise certain muscle groups.
To understand this, you need to know how the chest muscle is structured.
Each of your pecs is ONE muscle with muscle fibres inside.
When you perform any chest exercise, you activate muscle fibres inside all parts of your chest.
The difference is that when you do an upper chest exercise, you activate more muscle fibres in the upper area of your chest, so you see more growth there.
In other words, when you train one part of the chest, you inevitably train the other parts too.
With abs, we do have some ab isolation work in place, but it’s just enough to strengthen and build up your abs (especially the lower part and around the adonis belt), rather than doing so much that you look like a bloated powerlifter.
The point I’m trying to make is that your Phase 2 training program is designed to create an aesthetic and proportional physique rather than trying to mindlessly gain mass all over your body and hoping for the best. (Trust me, I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work).
This phase is “never-ending” since most guys can spend up to a decade gaining the amount of muscle mass they want to carry (I’ve been training for 6 years and I’m still in phase 2).
Muscle Gain Expectations of Phase 2
There’s only so much muscle mass you can gain as a natural skinny-fat trainee each year.
That mass is most likely less than you would expect after following the fitness industry for a while.
Below, I will give you the limits on how much muscle mass you can gain on a yearly basis:
For the purpose of the maximum amount of muscle you can gain in a year, I like to use The McDonald Model, which shows the potential rate of muscle gain per year for the average man:
- 1st year of proper training: 20-25 pounds (2 pounds per month)
- 2nd year of proper training: 10-12 pounds (1 pound per month)
- 3rd year of proper training: 5-6 pounds (0.5 pounds per month)
- 4th year of proper training and onwards: 2-3 pounds (not worth calculating)
If you sum up he potential muscle gains for the first 3 years of training, you get a total of 35-43 pounds.
35-43 pounds of muscle gains in the first 3 years of training don’t sound too bad, however it’s important to note that the model assumes the following things:
- Average genetics.
- Proper training (gaining muscle mass all over).
- Constant caloric surplus.
Skinny-fat guys have below average genetics.
Skinny-fat guys should not mindlessly add muscle mass everywhere possible, but rather add it in the right places.
Skinny-fat guys cannot be in a constant caloric surplus since we put on fat easily.
Therefore, skinny-fat guys won’t gain 35-43 pounds of muscle mass in 35-43 pounds of muscle mass in the first 3 years of training.
That number is most likely closer to 25-30 pounds in the first 3 years and chances are that you won’t have “beginner gains” like other guys who gain a lot more muscle mass in the first year.
You will most likely gain the 25-30 pounds equally spread over the first 3 years, as you explore what training programs and diet techniques work best for your body (that’s at least my experience with transforming my own body and helping others do the same).
Therefore, to conclude: You will most likely gain 8-10 pounds of muscle mass per year in the first 3 years and after that the law of diminishing returns will kick in and you will see minimal gains on a yearly basis.
Know When Enough Is Enough
The end goal for most of us is to feel comfortable in our own skin while being able to enjoy our life.
This often means that diet and training become a smaller priority once you’ve been training and dieting for a year or two.
You stop weighing and counting meals and go more by feel.
You adjust your daily training sessions depending on energy levels, and change training cycles depending on upcoming travels or work commitments.
You start focusing on enjoying yourself more, and you may want to carry a bit more fat than your lean base measurement, because you can get away with it.
You see… Once you achieve a great physique, you feel a sense of “relief” and a huge burden goes off your shoulders.
Once the burden is off your shoulders, you can focus more on other areas of life such as travel, career, business and relationships.
You can also get away with eating more food and carrying more fat because no one notices a bit of love handles when you have wide shoulders and big arms like Superman.
Today, I’m an online coach and have a big presence online, so a lot of people would expect me to have a ripped body like the guys in the magazines.
I don’t have that. I maintain around 12% body-fat most of the year with a bit of fat around my waist and eat big, enjoyable meals.
I could diet down and get ripped and starve myself to look good on Instagram but then I would have to give up a lot of other important things…
Things such as being able to workout everyday (I love working out but I can’t do it everyday when I’m on a strict diet to get ripped).
Or having a good sex life because my testosterone levels drop very low when I diet down.
Or travelling the world and enjoying the foods of a country.
You see… Everything comes with a price, and unless you’re a professional fitness model you should carefully consider when enough is enough and when it’s time to focus your efforts on other things in life rather than achieving the perfect body.
I personally focus on eating foods that make me feel good so I can workout as much as possible.
In the end, being genuinely happy on a daily basis is better than starving yourself and being miserable.
In other words, it’s GREAT to be obsessive about your body-transformation for the first year or two to get that base-line physique that makes you comfortable in your own skin, but don’t forget to know when enough is enough and when it’s time to switch to focus to other areas in your life.