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The High Performance Journal

The 3P Method To Building More Muscle

get lean Jul 18, 2023

The High Performance Journal​ - July 18th 2023


In the previous email, I talked about the 3 pillars of longevity, which building muscle, cardiovascular exercise, and mobility.

Today, I wanted to expand on a framework that I'm using for myself and my clients to help you build more muscle.

This won't be about aesthetics or looking sexy (although that may happen). It will be about living a long quality life well into the age of 80 and above.

Here's why:

The image you see above is the difference between living independently and a nursing home. What you may not see is that small little white area near the middle, which is bone density.

What you may not see is that the person in the middle is one fall away from doing irreparable harm to themselves.

There's an Instagram account that I can't stop watching and it's this girl Jeana Aragon, who's the wife of legendary evidenced-based nutrition expert Alan Aragon.

The reason I can't stop watching is that she has a series where she has been training her 80-year-old parents from not being able to do a bodyweight squat to lifting half their weight in a deadlift.

It's beautiful to see the impact that having more strength and function can have on their lives. It's a form of freedom that not many people think about as they age.

Why should you build muscle? Here are a few...

  • Increased strength & function
  • Increased calorie burn
  • Increased bone density
  • Decreased abdominal fat
  • Decreased risk of falls
  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Improvement of heart health
  • Improved mobility & flexibility
  • Improved brain health
  • Improved blood sugar levels
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased mood
  • Overall better quality of life

It doesn't matter who you are. Building muscle will enhance your life in ways you can't imagine.

It's not as hard as people think either. I broke down everything we do with our clients into a simple framework that I call the 3 P's.

Let me walk you through this.

Step 1 - Programming

You need a plan that's focused on the short and long term.

The first step to programming is understanding that there are 3 different goals one would have when it comes to building muscle that is largely based on nutrition:

  1. Muscle gain (Fastest) - Eating 100-350 calories over your maintenance.
  2. Body recomposition (Medium) - Eat at your maintenance calories.
  3. Fat loss (Slowest) - Eating at a deficit lower than your maintenance.

Muscle gain helps you gain the fastest but comes with the side effect of putting on extra fat.

Body recomposition is slower than muscle gain but keeps your fat levels where they are currently.

Fat loss is the slowest. Only beginners or people re-committing to strength training can see gains in this area but if you've been lifting for a while the most you can hope for is maintaining whatever muscle you have.

Choosing the goal and the speed is the most important step as it sets expectations for speed and the changes to your body.

You are only tied to this goal for whatever period of time you choose. This is why we set up what we call Macro and Meso cycles for our training.

A macrocycle refers to your year as a whole. A mesocycle refers to a particular training block within that season.

Here's an example of an ideal Macro and Meso cycle:

Fall to Winter - Muscle gain Springtime to Summertime - Fat Loss Summertime to Fall - Body recomposition

Once that is decided upon you list out the movements/exercises you will train under. Your main movements would be the ones listed in the previous article but here they are:

  1. Squat (Ie. barbell squats, Bulgarian split squats)
  2. Hinge (ie. Deadlifts, hip thrusts)
  3. Horizontal press (ie. bench press, incline bench press)
  4. Vertical press (ie. military press, standing overhead press)
  5. Lunge (ie. reverse lunge, lateral lunge)
  6. Carry or Hold (ie. farmer carries, bar hangs)
  7. Vertical Pull (ie. chin-ups, lat pulldowns)
  8. Horizontal pull (ie. back rows, cable rows)

You'd then fill out the rest of your training with accessory exercises that isolate the muscles like lat raises, bicep curls, core training, etc..

If this seems like a lot to you, I agree it is. This is 20 years of coaching clients condensed into a few hundred words.

If you're cool with figuring all this out on your own use this framework. If not, you can always sign up for private coaching or you can purchase the Lean Body 90 program that does this all for you.

Note: The Lean Body 90 program is focused specifically on the fat loss phase. Please that in mind if you decide to invest in it.


Step 2 - Progressive Overload

When you lift weights you're not necessarily building muscle. What you're doing is stressing the tissue, breaking it down, and triggering the body to rebuild bigger and stronger tissue.

Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine.

The slow adding of weight to the bar or doing an exercise with more range of motion allows for that tearing to occur. The body is forced to adapt due to the new stimulus and it does so by building more muscle.

The most important part of progressive overload is tracking your workouts. It sounds simple because it is. You will see a stark difference between writing down what you lifted versus not doing it.

Tracking acts as a forcing function to do more in the gym. You can use a journal to track or an app. The one that I use and recommend to others is called the Strong app.

One thing I must note is that adding reps or weight is not the only way to progressively overload your body.

There are 12 ways to progressively overload your body into building more muscle that you can access here.

Step 3 - Patience

For many people, they can expect to gain .5 to 2 pounds of muscle per month. This is dependent on your age, genetics, and nutritional intake. This process becomes slower the more experienced you are in the gym.

You won't see visible changes until after a year of working on this and even then they may be underwhelming.

When it comes to building muscle you want to have a large time horizon. Don't think weeks or months. Think years.

Also, don't be like me and make the mistake of being in a perpetual fat-loss phase. You want to have some dedicated time to building muscle and that means eating to make it happen.

Above all else the main thing to focus on is consistency. Be patient with yourself and love the process. That's the best advice I can give you.

Bonus Notes

To not make this longer than it should I purposely left out the other factors that lead to increased muscle growth, which are sleep and recovery.

I have a sleep protocol available that you can access here: High Performance Sleep 

I'll also be doing a future article on how to enhance your recovery. Look out for that in the near future.

Want to Live a Quality Life? Build Muscle.

Building muscle enhances your quality of life and improves your ability to do everyday activities.

It protects your joints from injury and also sets you up for a long life of independence.

The act of doing a workout comes with its own host of benefits for your brain and body.

You also increase your confidence and attractiveness.

From personal experience, building muscle has a meta-effect. It teaches you many lessons that you can take with you to your normal day-to-day.

Hope this article steered you in the right direction. See you on the next one.

- Dan

Whenever you’re ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

1. Are you an entrepreneur who wants to get lean, boost energy, and get in your best shape in a way that fits your busy lifestyle? Apply for private one-on-one coaching here.​

2. If you’re still looking to get lean, I’d recommend starting with an affordable course:

→ The Lean Body 90 System: Transform your body with the Lean Body 90 system. This comprehensive course will teach you the system I use to help my clients become lean and energetic in 90 days in only 90 minutes a week. Join 1000+ students here.

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