Tempering For Muscle: A Solution For Hardgainers!

Gaining muscle while staying as lean as possible has been the goal of most people for as long as I can think of... Learn how to gain mass with tempering.

Note: This is part one, click here for part two!

Gaining muscle while staying as lean as possible has been the goal of most people for as long as I can think of. Even before my time there were people trying to gain as much muscle as possible while staying lean.

These days you will find a new trainee will start out with plenty of motivation - he will eat 'correctly', he will do every exercise imaginable - yet after about a week of training he comes away disheartened because he is sore and hasn't become Mr. Olympia, or didn't get a contract with men's health to be a cover model during his first week. This trainee has lost all reason for doing exercise and gives up.

Your motivation is different. If you decide that it's too hard, or you don't feel like it today, you die. How much more motivation do you need in order to get out of bed, improve your physique and make yourself stronger? I don't need any and you shouldn't either. But fate has seen that you will get out of bed in the morning every day for the next 30 days.

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Where Do Most People Go Wrong?
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Good question. From the people I have met, or that have become my clients, I can put failure down to 3 main reasons - they are:

  1. Diet
  2. Rest/Recovery
  3. Exercise

I can see you reading this now thinking that you need diet, rest/recovery and exercise... you are correct, it is just a lot of people don't do these things correctly. I will try and provide real-life examples where possible.

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Fruits And Vegetables Either the trainee eats too much which quickly makes the trainee accumulate fat, or the trainee doesn't eat enough. There is a lot of information floating around on the Internet or in muscle magazines. Studies have also been published by the truckload. I am not a dietician or nutritionist so I will not pick apart all of the studies, but I can tell you that if you want to gain as much muscle as possible you need to eat a lot of protein (read: A LOT), carbs and fat.

The following eating plan was followed by my clients. It was devised out of the idea to get big you need to eat big. The said client went from 180lbs to 193lbs in just 30 days, and would only be considered fat by someone with 2 percent body fat (his body fat was approximately 9%, up from 7%).

    Breakfast: 5 eggs scrambled in butter with 1 cup of diced bacon, 1 bowl of oatmeal with milk and honey, and one glass of milk.

    Snack 1 (2-3 hrs later): 2 big glasses of milk, 1 huge meat and cheese sandwich.

    Lunch: 1 big steak, potato and green vegetables, plus another big glass of milk.

    Snack 2: Another huge sandwich with Ham, Turkey, Cheese, mayonnaise and vegetables, 1 apple and more milk.

    Dinner: Large pizza with lots of meat and cheese, plus a few glasses of milk.

    Before Bed: Protein shake with whole milk and one peanut butter sandwich.

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You will need about 9.5-10 hours minimum of sleep every night. This is another point where many hardgainers fail - they don't get enough sleep and don't rest enough throughout they day. You will also find that I don't prescribe any running during the next 30 days. It will create too much stress in your body and you are trying to gain weight, so just have some blind faith (your dead anyway, anything you do now is just a bonus right) and trust me.

You will be doing some light swimming, joint mobility drills and stretching on your rest days and you will be feeling great for it as well.

One excellent method of recovery is called Tempering and I have used it personally for the last 4 years. Below you will find out what it is exactly, how to do it and why you should do it. Trust me, your ability to build a stronger, bigger body will amaze you.

Strength is one that we can work at and achieve great results, there are only two limiting factors, they are health and self-imposed limitations on our own abilities.

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The self-imposed limitations are exactly that; get rid of those and you will be as strong as you want to be. You don't need to be a genetic freak to achieve great results. Health is often overlooked by trying to find a miracle drug or supplements so rare that no one has heard of it. What I am about to tell you is very simple and one of the best ways to achieve great health.

As strength athletes or someone seeking strength, the whole body must work together and act like a finely tuned machine. You have trained your nervous system and other systems that the body has, now you need to be as healthy as possible, because, as George Hackenschmidt stated: "Strength cannot be divorced from health".

We all know that there is no one drug that will give us complete health if there was then there would be no sickness in the world and everyone would be strong even if they didn't train for strength. What I am about to tell you may be old news but for others it will be something that they haven't heard of.

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Tempering: What Is It & Why?
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Tempering or fortifying the body through controlled exposure to the cold.

What are the benefits I hear you asking?

  1. Aid the immune system and strengthens it
  2. Makes your body more resilient to cold weather
  3. Increased muscle tone
  4. Speeds up the metabolism
  5. Stimulates the Central Nervous System (CNS)
  6. Makes you a better man/woman

There are a few ways to temper your body, the traditional method (if you don't live near a lake or ocean) is to take three five gallon buckets or metric equivalent and dump them over your head one after the other first thing in the morning.

Pavel described what can best be named "winter swimming" or cutting a hole in some ice and immersing your body in the frozen water. While this method is effective it is not practical for all people. That is why I favor the bucket method.

In the book titled, "The Russian System Guidebook", Vladimir Vasiliev shows a method of tempering that is very quick and simple. Vladimir recommends tempering twice a day; once before 12 noon, and once before midnight every day. Vladimir goes on to say, "As it was explained to me in the Special Forces: 'this way you get the two cycles of the day involved and thus receive both positive and negative energy charges from the earth'".

Vladimir also states that if you are starting to feel sick then you should temper every 2 hours. I have tried this and found that the next day I was feeling great.

Now I will tell you where I made some mistakes, so you all can learn form them:

My first mistake was when I tried Vladimir Vasiliev's method. The method is great, don't get me wrong, but what I was doing was jumping in front of a heater straight away. It did my body no good and I got very sick. The doctor said that he had actually heard of tempering and that I was stupid to jump in front of the heater straight away. So there we have lesson 1 learned. My suggestion is to just dry yourself off and put your clothes on and just relax.

Mistake number two: starting my tempering at the wrong time of year. Where I used to live I had a pool, so at about 4 in the morning, when I would get up for work, I would jump into the nice fresh ice cold water. While it was very refreshing I forgot that it was winter - because we had a few hot days - so when the cold set in I continued to temper. This made me sick again. Lesson 2 learned.

My suggestion would be to start in summer, then as the water gets colder keep swimming. Look at it as though it is a powerlifting cycle that is slowly adding weight to the bar, then as you reach a peak you will naturally cycle down again.

The third mistake I made was constant starting and stopping due to my work situation. I was sick again, but not as sick. The lesson learned is: keep doing it. If you miss out on a weeks worth of tempering, just stop it and pick it up again in the summer.

So there we have it. I will now outline a basic tempering routine that anyone can use:

  • Pick a method that you will be able to stick to. For most of us the 3 buckets of water will work wonders.
  • Do some joint mobility before you temper, or temper when you finish your training.
  • If you choose the swimming method, just aim for 3 sessions a week. On the days you don't temper just turn your shower to cold for the last 15-30 seconds.
  • Don't have a warm shower after your tempering because, as you learned from my heater experiences, it is not good for your body.
  • If you miss your tempering for more than a week just leave it.
  • Consult your doctor before you start tempering, it may not be the best for you.

That's about it. Most of you will find the three bucket method the easiest and most convenient. Anyway, go and give it a bash.

Note: This is part one, click here for part two!

Be sure to also check out:
For More Strength Just Add Water!