Share your Expertise

Share your Expertise

Q: I am Asian, and I was skinny for a very long time until last year when I put on a lot of fat. My height is 5’7″ and I weigh 160 lbs. with a 33 inch waist. I have been on this diet for more than 2 weeks now, but I’m not gaining any weight at all:

Meal 1 (6:30 AM)
-one and a half scoops of whey protein concentrate
-2 cups of milk
-1 banana

Meal 2 (7:30 AM)
-1 serve of oatmeal

Meal 3 (10:30 AM)
-Whole grain Rice Cakes w/ peanut butter
-one and a half scoops of whey protein concentrate

Meal 4 (12 Noon)
-150 grams Chicken breast grilled
-4 slices of whole grain bread

Meal 5 (3:30 PM)
-7 egg whites 1 egg yolk
-2 cups of milk
-one scoop of ice cream
-mixed berries
-2 slices of whole grain toasts w/ butter/peanut butter

Exercise (4 pm – 5:30 pm)

Meal 6 (6:30 PM)
-1 cup of brown rice or whole meal pasta or sweet potato
-mixed vegetables
-1 grilled steak or chicken breast or turkey breast or salmon

Meal 7
-One tub of Cottage cheese

Exercise (9:30 PM-10:30 PM)

Meal 8 (10:45 PM)
-2 scoops of whey concentrate

I don’t always follow this strictly, but most of the time I strive to eat as planned. I generally weight train once a week all upper body exercises, and in the afternoon every weekday I usually do break dancing. It’s sort of aerobics with lots of head spins and other power moves from 4 pm to 5:30 pm.

Every night at 9:30 that’s when I get home. I do my daily exercises which consist of 2 sets of pull ups to failure (about 8 reps), 2 sets of handstand push ups(about 25 reps) to failure and 2 sets of decline sit ups (about 100 reps) to failure.

Should I drop break dancing and evening exercises and join a gym? Is there nothing bad with my diet? Honestly I never thought I would put on much muscle, mostly because I am Asian. But when I see you I think,’Umm… maybe I still can?’

Anyways, thank you very much. I look forward to your advice!

– S. Zhang

My Answer: Wow, Zhang, I’m surprised you don’t puke during your break dancing sessions from all the food you eat. At 5’7″ with a 33 inch waist, I would definitely agree that you have put on a lot of fat. The problem is you’re eating A LOT, but you’re not strength training enough to put on muscle. 2 sets of pull-ups, handstand push up and decline sit-ups doesn’t do jack shit for gaining muscle. You don’t have to stop break dancing if that’s what you love doing, but either join a gym or buy a 300 lb free weight set with an adjustable bench and squat rack.

As a break dancer, you favor body weight exercises. But with the exception of pull-ups, most body weight exercises won’t induce enough hypertrophy in your muscles for you to gain size. Here’s what I suggest: Keep the break dancing, but you got to hit the gym.  Ditch the decline sit-ups, but keep doing pull-ups and handstand push ups.

At the gym you should follow a powerlifting program of deadlifts, bench press and squats. Plugging these exercises into a 5×5 template should build you some solid muscle.  Weight train 3 days a week, not once a week like you’ve been doing.  I’d follow something like this:

Day 1

  • Pull-ups: 4 sets of as many reps as possible (AMRAP)
  • Deficit handstand push-ups: 2 sets AMRAP
  • Bench press: 5×5
  • Squats: 5×5

Day 2

  • Off

Day 3

  • Pull-ups: 5 sets AMRAP
  • Deficit handstand push-ups: 2 sets AMRAP
  • Bench press: 5×5
  • Deadlift: 5×5

Day 4

  • Off

Day 5

  • Pull-ups: 3 sets AMRAP
  • Deficit handstand push-ups: 2 sets AMRAP
  • Bench press: 5×5
  • Squats: 5×5

Day 6

  • Off

Day 7

  • Off

Now with regards to your diet, I would cut the meals down to four.  You’re eating way too much and that’s making you fat.  Dump the oatmeal, dump the cottage cheese, dump the rice cakes.

Q: I recently purchased the second volume of your book and have been following the Density/Decompression program, and thus far I’ve seen some great results. A few days ago however I caught the flu and have been unable to get to the gym to complete the second week of the decompression phase. I figure I will have been out of commission for an entire week once I get over this sickness.

I was wondering how you suggest I work back into the rhythm of the program? Should I carry on with a second week of decompression as though nothing had happened, or should I begin a new density phase?

Thanks for your time! I really appreciate your blog as a resource. I would also add that as a person of Asian descent, I appreciate your contribution (whether conscious or not) towards breaking down stereotypes of the typical Asian male.”


My Answer: If you’re sick, then don’t workout. If you are sick or injured, then your primary concern is recovery. When you do recover, simply resume the decompression phase. This will serve as a nice break-in period to get you re-acclimated to working out again.

It is not uncommon for people to get sick from training, especially if the training stimulus is new. If you train longer than an hour and you do this repeatedly on a poor diet, then yes, your immunity will be compromised. The other reason exercise sometimes gets you sick is that a lot of toxins are located in your fat stores, so when those fat stores are broken down, the toxins get released into your bloodstream.

By the way Philippe, thanks for the kind words. Part of the reason I wrote Strength and Physique was to share with my readers solid information on how to crack the hypertrophy code. If you’ve done your homework in the gym and with your diet, and you want to take your physique to the next level, then my books will show you how. All lifters who love bodybuilding, Asian or not, should have this knowledge.

When I started my Strength and Physique blog and wrote my magazine and online articles, I wasn’t looking to break stereotypes about the weak Asian male. I just had a love for strength training.

But I’ve gotten so many comments, similar to yours, about how it’s great to see an athletic-looking Asian male. I’m quite honored and quite humbled that my peers would see me as somewhat of a role model. All Asian males, however, have the potential to be the best at something and to represent our tribe in a good light. By sharing what I know with you guys, you can all reach your physique potential, as long you workout consistently and intelligently.

Strength training is my expertise. Do your Asian brothers a favor and share your expertise. This way we can all be role models for our community.



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