“While weights can play an important part in your conditioning program it is not the end all be all.”
– U.S. Army Ranger discussing his training
How I developed a better physique than most Army Rangers
I love lifting weights. I love deadlifts, squats, and bench. Isolation exercises are a different story though. I’m not a huge fan of them. Whenever I’ve tried doing those “real” bodybuilding routines they show in magazines, you know the type, I’ve ended up looking deformed. My arms would atrophy and I’d appear bloated.
Worst of all, it would cost me a small fortune to try and stick to the recommended diet. Eating six times a day and using copious amounts of protein powder really put a dent in my wallet. Supplements can add up fast. $100 to $250 a month on some powders and power bars is a lot for someone in their early 20’s.
In Peru supplements are even more expensive. Scoping out the local pharmacy I noticed that everything was about 40% higher than it was back home. Considering the fact that you can get a full course meal, with side dishes and a beverage, for less than four dollars, protein powder seemed a little ridiculous.
While I could easily get steroids or testosterone, they’re both legal here, I actually decided against doing so. Not being a medical professional, or even knowing a whole lot about drugs, I chose to steer clear. I might be missing out on some extra gains, but I’ll also be avoiding any trips to the hospital.
Because of the fact that I haven’t been following a strict diet, or even doing a lot of lifting, I was sure that I was losing muscle mass and getting fat.
That’s why I was shocked to find out that the opposite was happening.
How big is the average Army Ranger?
The other day I took my physical measurements. I’m six feet tall, weigh 174 pounds, and have 13% body fat. While this isn’t huge it is does mean that I’m bigger than the average Army Ranger:
“According to the Army’s Special Operations Command, the average height and weight of an Army Ranger are 69 inches and 174 pounds… In general, soldiers must maintain no more than 20 percent body fat in the 17 to 20 age range and 22 percent if they are ages 21 to 27.”
What I’m saying might sound like a brag, which it isn’t because a man who made it through Ranger School could easily destroy me at any physical challenge, I do think that it is important to point out. Without any supplements or a strict gym routine I was still able to get into great shape.
This simply means that the average guy who’s on a budget can still improve his physique without spending a lot of time or money in the process.
What I’ve been doing for exercise
I’m in the gym every single morning. The place packs up during the afternoon so I head over as soon as it opens.
Once I arrive I do some stretching. After that I start my routine:
- Warm up with the bar for 10 reps
- One heavy set of compound lifts until I get tired (Depending on if I want to do legs, chest, or back)
- As many pull-ups, or dips, as I can do until I get tired (as in I can’t even do one more)
- One set of vanity lifts (like forearms or shoulders) until I get tired
- Anything else I feel like doing
In the afternoon I usually get some cardio by going for a run in the park. I also do a lot of walking in the evenings.
My current diet
I’m at 13% body fat right now and my diet is a joke. I pretty much eat whatever I want. Bread, ice cream, fruit. All the stuff that’s supposed to be bad for you. While I’m not chowing down on fast food or candy, I am eating meals that wouldn’t be approved my most bodybuilding gurus. In fact, here’s what my current diet and schedule looks like:
When I wake up I do some breathing exercises. After this I go across the street and get a chicharrón sandwich and cup of coffee, I recently discovered the joys of café con leche, while I write up new post ideas on my phone. Then I head over to the gym.
When I finish at the gym I hit up the supermarket and buy my post-workout meal and dinner. That picture above is what I got today. If you can’t see what’s there I’ve made a little list:
- One pound of ground beef
- One liter of milk
- A bag of sweet potato chips
- A tub of fresh pineapple
- Two liters of water
- One liter of fruit juice
The whole thing cost me less than $15 too. And it even gets better. That pineapple will last me about two days and the juice will see me through the week. Both those purchases made up about half the total cost, the water was less than a dollar and the milk cost a buck. For less than seven dollars I’ve got a post-workout snack, chips and a liter of milk, and a pound of beef for dinner.
In order to break up my day, and get some human interaction, I like going out for lunch. There’s a place I love to go that serves chicken and rice, with ceviche as an appetizer, for four dollars. It’s delicious and gives me a ton of extra protein. Back in the states you can’t even get a greasy burger for that price.
At night I eat dinner. After which I go for a long walk and occasionally do some more pull ups in the park near my house. Then I get a slice of cake and go home to write.
Lifting every day is the secret
Some fitness troll is going to pop up in the comments here and announce how I’m doing everything wrong. Whenever you write about exercise people get mad.
Right now I’m not actually lifting a ton. Doing bench or squats followed by body weight exercises isn’t a whole lot. It takes less than an hour.
Since my routine is simple I can go in and do it every single day.
The average man will never over-train. Ever.
This is especially true with things like body weight exercises.
I have plenty of friends who’ve been in the military, and all of them have hit their physical peak during boot camp.
They do push ups and run around every single day for weeks on end. Nobody gets a day off and drill sergeants aren’t worried about over-training their recruits.
You’ll get tired long before you ever actually over-train. There are days where I might do less reps, but I’m not going into some deadly catabolic state or anything like that.
I’ve been physically bigger in the past. Last summer I was about 186 pounds. My body fat was also a lot higher. I was drinking a gallon of milk a day, making lots of protein shakes, and eating six or seven times a day. It was like having a part-time job.
Keeping tabs on exactly how much protein I was getting from my second breakfast wasn’t something that I enjoyed doing. Not eating bread or having to forgo the occasional pastry wasn’t fun either.
Since I’ve been enjoying my more casual approach to lifting I’m going to post about it more often.
Doing something as simple as some pull-ups and squats is a routine that almost any guy could manage. It’s not that time-consuming or difficult. Because of this I’m going to keep you updated with a new evening post every weekday. We’ll talk fitness and nutrition for guys who don’t want to keep nutrition logs or waste money on ineffective supplements.