28 Things About Gaining Muscle, Losing Fat, and Building Strength I’ve Learned in 28 Years

I turned 28 a few days ago and I’ve got to say, I don’t feel all that old. Especially not as old as my bday twin, Tony Gentilcore (Tony I hope you read this and still like me 🙂 ).

Now that I’m wise beyond my years, I thought it would be cool to share 28 nuggets about things related to training, nutrition, and fitness that I’ve learned, practiced, used, taught, and experimented with since I got into this game.

Even though I haven’t been training for 28 years, I think you’ll find these ‘things’ beneficial to your own progress.


On Gaining Muscle



  1. To build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn. If you aren’t gaining weight, you aren’t likely putting on the muscle you might think you are.
  2. You can use barbells, dumbbells, machines, cables, and kettlebells to build muscle. You can even use Bosu balls. Ok. No, you can’t. The point is muscle can be gained if you eat enough and train hard enough to present an overload to your body.
  3. I tend to lean towards the compound lifts when designing a muscle building program. Simply put, they’re fantastic for hitting all of the major muscle groups.
  4. Gaining muscle takes time and lots of it.
  5. Gaining muscle is much harder than losing fat, generally speaking.
  6. Your body is much more receptive to putting on muscle if you’re relatively lean first. So, lose some fat first, then put on the mass.
  7. You should spend more time trying to build muscle than lose fat simply because of the time comparison of building muscle vs. losing fat. (And the fact that muscle is what gives us the ‘shape’ we want)
  8. Frequency of training is very important for building muscle, as is total volume. Try to increase your volume of training over a period of 4-5 weeks before using a deload. Then, go for another phase of mass building.

On Losing Fat


  1. Getting lean enough to see decent ab definition will take longer than you think/or want to believe. Once you finish this article, check THIS article out that details my 25lb weight loss earlier this year.
  2. Consume fewer calories than you need and you’ll lose weight. Simple, right? For the most part, yes, it is. But, you have to make sure you are actually eating less. Track your calories with an app or pay closer attention to your portion sizes.
  3. Keep protein steady throughout your diet while removing fats and carbs. About 1g/lb of bodyweight is perfect.
  4. To help spare muscle loss, consume protein every 4-6 hours while dieting down.
  5. You can lose fat fast or you can lose fat slow. It really depends on how much you have to lose and also if you’re doing a rapid fat loss phase more for diet ‘buy-in.’
  6. You don’t have to avoid certain foods to lose fat.
  7. You do have to eat certain foods to lose fat. Haha, see what I did there? Eat the foods you like and stick to your calorie targets and you can still lose fat.
  8. Whole foods ARE probably better than junk foods because you can eat more quantity of food for the same amount of calories. More fullness=better chance of sticking to diet
  9. You shouldn’t aim to lose fat constantly. If you have a lot to lose, break your fat loss into multiple 12-week phases. If you only have a little bit to lose, knock it out and then get back to maintaining or building muscle.
  10. Fat loss training is more about preserving muscle mass than it is about burning calories. (The bulk of your calorie deficit most likely will come from your diet)
  11. You still want to train hard to lose fat just as you would if you were building muscle. The biggest difference is going to be in your calorie amounts.
  12. You can still do fun things, enjoy social outings and drink booze while losing fat. BUT, calories still matter first and foremost so don’t expect phenomenal results if you’re drinking 4-5 nights a week and eating crap food.

On Building Strength

Sumo- PR of 510lbs

Sumo- PR of 510lbs

  1. Strength comes in many different forms. Are you looking to improve your 1 rep max for a powerlifting meet? Do you want to build more strength in your legs so you can get up and down the stairs more easily? Or, do you want to improve strength to help drive muscle growth?
  2. Building strength is generally more of a neural adaptation which basically means your body needs to get used to lifting heavier weights over time.
  3. You can build strength with the big 3 (squats, deadlifts, bench presses) or you can even build strength with ANY exercises you want. All depends on your goal(s).
  4. Good technique should always be stressed to help prevent injury and allow for maximum strength gains.
  5. To gain strength you’ll need to practice and repeat those exercises many, many times. Don’t jump around from program to program expecting a different result. Instead, stick with a program for at least a month with the same exercises so you can progressively load week to week and get stronger.
  6. You can build strength with your bodyweight, too. Pushups, pull-ups, and dips are all great exercises for the upper body and will improve your physique and strength as well.
  7. Strength gains won’t happen overnight. Keep at it and never stop trying to improve your strength. This could mean doing 1 extra rep with five more pounds or lifting 10 more pounds at the end of a training cycle.
  8. Building more muscle gives you the potential to get stronger. Hence why large muscled individuals are 9 times out of 10 stronger than others.

Random Musings

  1. Don’t fall for detoxes, magic diet pills or supplements that promise instant or rapid results. Truthfully, making good and solid progress with your strength, physique, and fitness will take time. Most likely forever (meaning you should make it a lifestyle not an overnight ‘quick fix.’)
  2. Don’t fall for diet fads like I did. I’m now wise enough to know that putting 900 calories of butter into my coffee isn’t doing me any fat loss favors.
  3. Always go for the goals that YOU want. I’ve learned to train and diet based on how I want my body to look and feel. If I want to get leaner, I’ll eat and train based on that. If I want to add strength then I’ll go for that. It might be selfish, but I don’t train a certain way because somebody else told me to.
  4. Reaching your goals doesn’t boil down to one single factor. Meaning just because you’re consistent you’ll achieve them. Your goals will require many factors such as hard work, effort, confidence, forgiveness, determination, level-headedness, openness and many others.
  5. Have fun with your training without sacrificing principles and results.
  6. Understand that you may have to do things at times that suck, are difficult and challenging, and test your limits. That’s ok. That helps to build character and can teach you a lot about yourself.
  7. Always strive to learn more. I know I am everyday.
  8. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be confident in yourself but never be afraid to take chances and go for what you believe in.
  9. Enjoy the journey.

I’ve certainly been fortunate to learn from THE best in the fitness industry. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of ‘things’ on my list and they’ll likely come to me as soon as I publish this.

Anyway, I hope my random thoughts have benefitted you in some way. *FYI I went over 28 ‘things’ so I hope you don’t mind ;)*

Here’s to your success and another 28 years of learning and growing.

And, because it’s still my birthday week, I’d like to give YOU a gift!

When you join my exclusive VIP area you’ll receive a free copy of my fat loss guide, ’10 Commandments of Fat Loss.’

Build Muscle. Lose Fat. Gain Strength.

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