Discover more from Strong As An Ox
10 Frequently Most Asked Questions
DMs, Emails, Etc.
Hope all of you are sticking to the 30 Day Challenge framework I laid out on the paid substack (if you’re not on the paid substack, what is you doin’?).
Today I wanted to go over some of the most common questions I get asked and the answers to these questions.
Luckily, due to my turbo autsims, I have good pattern recognition skills and have noticed some things pop up in the DM’s, emails, Q/A’s, and comments on posts.
Your questions are extremely useful because if you have a question, more than likely dozens (if not hundreds, even thousands) have the same exact question. There are no stupid questions (except if creatine is bad for your liver).
Let’s not waste any time and get right into this:
Question 1: “How Much Rest Between Sets?”
This is easily the most asked question I get. In part this is my fault, I could’ve easily listed this on all the programs I have. The answer will make you realize why I’ve left it out without thinking about it.
The answer is “however long you need to be able to perform your next set with maximum performance and intensity.”
On paper this will be around 3-5 minutes for optimal muscle growth.
The reason for this is the fact intensity and progressive overload are going to be the drivers of muscle growth.
If we are doing our sets at 80% because we are still breathing heavy and have a jacked up heart rate from the previous set, we are not going to create the maximum tension on our sets—our cardio will likely fail before our muscles or the muscles just simply weren’t recovered to push the weight.
Don’t be excessive—5 minutes should be the max—but we definitely do not need to rush sets.
Question 2: “Should I eat 1g per pound of bodyweight or 1g per pound of lean muscle mass?”
As we know, the general guideline for muscle growth and maintenance the golden rule is 1g per pound of body weight is ideal. This is a heavily studied and researched subject, and this is the general findings.
If you are normal weight, say 15% body fat 180lbs, but you estimate your lean muscle tissue is 153lbs and fat mass is 27lbs, then you might ask “should I just eat 153g of protein” and the answer is a hard “probably not, eat more.”
You can actually benefit from more than 1g per pound, and even benefit from 1.2 to 1.5 grams per pound—especially if you are cutting and losing body fat.
Protein is safe in this range—it is muscle sparing, will not convert to fat, and can leave us more full.
Stick with the 1g per pound of BODYWEIGHT recommendation—you WILL grow better or maintain muscle better if cutting.
Now what if you’re very overweight and obese?
We have to use some deductive reasoning and think in terms of what is healthy, what might be “too much” and what our minimal needs are.
If you weigh 400lbs and are 200lbs overweight, do you need 400g of protein?
Would it hurt you?
No. (Please seen attached study)1
Our minimal needs will then be closer to “estimated lean body mass” which can be extremely difficult to determine at this point.
What we then should focus on is eating enough protein by making protein the base of all meals and eating more protein than any other nutrient.
If this is you and you want to focus on slimming down, eating more protein than you might “need” can be beneficial because it will help with diet adherence and leave you much more full.
Not to mention protein sources are typically very nutrient-dense (think eggs, fatty fish, and beef).
It might simply be too hard to eat 1g per pound if 400lbs+, so focus on 200g at least of high quality protein.
The rest of you, 1g per pound of total bodyweight.
Question 3: “Why Can’t I Gain Muscle If I’m Lifting Hard And Eating Enough?”
This is asked more than almost anything else as well. The problem here comes down to a few things:
1. You’re not actually eating enough. People have a tendency to overestimate their calorie consumption. What gets tracked gets managed.
I know I repeated this damn near every article, but everyday I get a dozen DM’s and that’s the first thing I ask “did you track” and the answer is always “No.”
When people do track, they realize they were off by 500+ calories. Same goes for fat loss. Do not be lazy—use an app like MyMacros+, MyFitnessPal, etc., get a food scale, and track. It will be night and day difference.
2. You’re not sleeping enough. Sleep and food are the two most anabolic functions in our life. If you’re not sleeping well—the MAJOR pillar of recovery—then you can’t expect to gain muscle, perform, or lose fat well.
3. You’re not training hard enough. Sure we can go lift and get a nice pump and whatever, but if you’re not pushing sets near or to failure, you are not providing the stimulus the body needs to grow.
Track your lifts and add weight to the bar every week. Lift with good form—don’t use your entire body to do a bicep curl.
If you can do these three things, I can absolutely 100 percent guarantee you will grow. If not, consult a doctor because you have some serious underlying issues.
Question 4: “How Many Protein Shakes Can I Have A Day?”
This answer is all going to have to do with your total meal frequency, total calories, etc.
We DO NOT want most of our protein coming from whey. Not because whey is bad, but because it has less nutrients than other protein sources.
We want to get most of our protein from real food, then we use protein as it’s intended use, a SUPPLEMENT to help us reach our total daily goal.
Generally speaking, if you are eating 3-6 real meals a day, 2 protein shakes is what I would try to limit to—this is going to be 25-50% of your daily protein needs.
If you do more, you might run into some constipation issues which is very no bueno for not just life, but muscle growth as well.
Question 5: “What Supplements Can Help Me Grow More Muscle?”
So my obvious answer here is “get your training, diet, sleep, and recovery dialed in”.
However, many of you actually do this well, and for you we do have some supplements that can give us an edge.
We have this pyramid that shows the importance of the above, and also shows that supplementation is the extra cherry on top.
We will start with the more basic and work our way into more advanced.
The first one is creatine. Creatine is proven to promote better muscle growth through various mechanisms within the body.
My post on creatine can show you why in depth.
Next, we can try something like Essential Amino Acids. Now these aren’t special, they are just protein broken down in its most basic form, but it is low (virtually zero) calories and can keep our bodies in an anabolic state.
This becomes extremely useful in the morning if we are fasted and go to do cardio. EAA’s are also very beneficial during training as they digest easily and jumpstart the recovery process before we’re even done training.
Supplements like Tongkat Ali, Boron, and Fenugreek can increase our testosterone -which obviously is going to enhance our growth and recovery.
Then we have a class of supplments called “ecdysteroids”. Don’t let the name fool you, these are not steroids and are non hormonal—they are safe and effective. You don’t need to “cycle” them and they won’t supress your natural testoserone porduction.
There are two products that work very well (not affiliated, have used both and they work).
One is called A-Bolic by True Nutrition—it contains Turkesterone, Apigenin, Quercetin and works to enhance Muscle Protein Synthesis and recovery.
The other is Ecdysterone by Advanced Molecular Labs—this contains high quality ecdysterone - which also enhances Muscle Protein Synthesis and recovery.
These aren’t magic and it’s nothing extreme like anabolic steroids or SARMS (avoid), but nonetheless they do provide a boost.
Question 6: “What Should I Do On Rest Days?”
Rest days don’t need to be you in bed all day trying to remain as inactive as possible. Our bodies are very tough, and as long as you’re not lifting weights again, we can largely get away with being pretty damn active.
We actually want to stay moving to get blood flowing to the muscles we just trained—this greatly helps with recovery and even growth.
On rest days I like to stretch and work on mobility, and again this will help with blood flow and keeps us “suple”.
My rest day protocol looks like this:
30 minute walk in zone 2 heart rate for active recovery
Theragun and foam rolling
Stretch out and do mobility work
Sauna for 20 minutes
Cold Plunge for 5-10 Minutes
Occasionally, I will also get deep tissue massages (2x a month), dry needling (1-2x a month), cupping (1-2x month), and a chiropractor (1x every 1-2 months).
The better we can dial in recovery on rest days, the better we will grow.
If you like to run, hike, etc. you can largely do these with no worries as long as it doesn’t hurt our performance the next day on our lifts.
Question 7: “I View A Lot Of Blue Light During Work, What Should I Do?”
Blue light is a major disruption of our natural circadian rhythm. This can have a cascade of negative effects on our health.
If you work in an office setting, I highly suggest taking time during the day to get outside and get natural light, this helps offset the negative effects of the blue light.
You can also buy Blue Light Blocking Glasses, I personally use Ra Optics and these can block out a lot of the blue light.
My suggestion would be to focus on getting light within 30 minutes of waking up and again during sunset.
The major thing you can do is avoid before bed, at least an hour, so if you can’t avoid blue light during work, at least limit this before bed.
Take these steps and watch your quality of sleep and energy levels skyrocket.
Question 8: “What Are The Best Alternatives To Deadlift?”
I’ve mentioned the facts deadlifts are not an optimal exercise for muscle growth—this is nothing against the exercise, I do them occasionally—but this is physiological fact.
For a large back, we absolutely do not need them, and if we are uncomfortable with them, we DO NOT need them, at all.
In lieu of deadlifts, I am a huge fan of T-Bar Rows, Bent Over Dumbbell Rows, SEAL Rows, Chest Supported Machine Rows, and 45 Degree Hyperextensions.
We can do any number of these back exercises and they will actually be even more effective for muscle growth.
Again, deadlifts aren’t bad, but we do have options if you don’t prefer them. You won’t be missing out on any muscle growth.
Question 9: “What Are The Best Shoes For The Gym?”
Please do not go squat or deadlift in running shoes. They are bad for support and mess up our push from the floor with their cushioned soles. This can lead to improper form and potential injury.
The best shoes have flat bottoms. Shoes like Vans, Converse, Nike Metcons, and my personal Favorite, NoBulls.
The shoe doesn’t really matter as long as it is flat.
Some people really like the Vibram “toe shoes” or even going barefoot, these are both great options as well. Personally, I don’t go barefoot because it’s gross and I would stub my toes or drop a dumbbell on my foot.
You can get really fancy and get lifting shoes—I’ve personally never used them, but they can help a lot, especially if you have mobility issues.
Question 10: “How Do You Warm Up?”
My warm ups are nothing crazy. Typically, I’ll do a primer movement—pec dec for push, pullovers for pull, and leg curls for legs.
Then as I get into the workout, I will do 3-5 sets of progressing weight, starting with the bar, for 5-10 reps to get the muscle warmed up and get the body ready for my two working sets.
I will do this for most movements, but after my first compound lift of each specific muscle, I will only do 1-2 warm up sets just to make sure everything is firing correctly and I can feel the movement.
If I am especially tight and just feel “off”, I will do 10 minutes on the treadmill for a slow incline walk to get my body temperature up.
As I’ve mentioned, I NEVER static stretch—this is simply just asking for poor performance and potential injury. That type of warm up protocol is outdated and counter productive.
Saturday on the Paid Substack, I will be doing a major giveaway totaling $1,000 worth of supplements, apparel and gear!
I will also be announcing a way all of you can earn money with an affiliate program for the Substack.
As always, stay safe, healthy, and just keep grinding bro.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.