Finally…A Non-Bodybuilding Approach to Getting in Great Shape!

Important Message: Although this site has received 25+ million visitors, I am starting from scratch and abandoning it. This site is dated and old school looking, terrible to read on mobile, etc.

It’s like a Ford Pinto compared to my new site…which is like a Ferrari.

I’ve moved my About Me page over there as well.

Click here to see my About page and new site.

Thanks for reading all these years!

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356 thoughts on “Finally…A Non-Bodybuilding Approach to Getting in Great Shape!”

  1. Hey Rusty, I just got a membership at Anytime Fitness and am interested in getting into the swing of things. The problem is that I played sports in high school but since then have not worked out regularly. I was just wondering if you had any books you could recommend as far as workouts, advice, etc. to get me started. I went in the other day but without a good plan, it seemed like I was just walking around aimlessly. I cannot really afford to pay a trainer for his/her help so I was just going to see if there were any good books out there to help. Thanks!

  2. Thanks I think between 160-165 will be good for, I like to emulate the look of Mario Lopez who is 175 at 5’11”. One question according to Pavel and you if you do heavy weights and few reps should’nt I be able to squats and deadlifts to get super strong while losing or maintaining weight. I ask because I strive to be fit and functional. I think of it as the “spiderman ideal” which is the strongest relative strength you can get while still improving speed (sprints) and flexibility. Just curious as I’ve squats and deads will improve overall strength and functionality.

    Fred

  3. Slayne,

    Awesome job on the progress! I love hearing this type of feedback!
    *I’m surprised that you don’t get to drink water during the fast. I’m sure there is a good reason for it, but that has to be tough. I would probably recommend a small meal in the morning and a healthy, but large meal at night like you did last time. That will work best in this case.
    *You are right about calves. Work them if time allows. The only argument I would have is that tough cardio will slim the calves down quite a bit, so you are kind of fighting against that a bit.
    *I don’t aim for vascularity…it will happen once you get to low body fat levels. It depends a lot upon genetics. I am neutral on this…I’m pretty vascular, but wouldn’t stress out if I wasn’t.
    *I’m 6’3″ and about 185 pounds in that picture. That is pretty slim, but having low body fat creates the illusion of more muscle. As a reference, Will Smith was about 5 pounds heavier than me in “I am Legend” and is an inch shorter. What is funny is that I look like I have less muscle with 2-3% more body fat.
    Good comments!

    Fred,

    Hard to say unless I know your bone structure. I have a friend at 5’7″ and weighs 160’ish and looks great. Here is something crazy…Brad Pitt was 155 for Fight Club and is 5’11” tall. So my estimate for you at 5’7″ would be between 150-165. As far as calves go, I agree…big calves do look good as do big shoulders.

    Rusty

  4. Reading your posts I do have to say if your lean then I never see anyone didn’t look good with big calves. I think thats the one bodypart you can never get too big.

  5. Hi Rusty,

    Thanks for your site it’s the piece I was looking for in my fitness quest. My question is I’m 5’7″ medium build, right now I’m around 173lbs with about 5 lbs of fat to get off. What is a good weight I should shoot for at my height to look lean but not too skinny?

    Thanks for your input,

    Fred

  6. I’m a 26 year old guy and while I used to be quite fit during college, I became relatively inactive over the last 5 years (job, marriage, etc.). Around December last year (almost 5 years later), I made a conscious decision to get back into shape. Around the same time, I stumbled across your blog and while it was quite different to most other fitness sites out there, both in terms of its advice, but also its tone – which was very positive.

    Nevertheless, I kept coming back and have since been building your advice into my approach. Man, I haven’t seen results like this ever in my life before! At college, it probably took me a year to get to where I am now (5 months later and with less effort)! I’ve lost about 12cm off my waist (and counting) and the only real challenge has been to keep getting back to the tailor to make my pants smaller!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the effort you put into this (I seems like quite a lot), and also pose a few random questions/comments that have come to mind as I’ve read your blog over the last few months…
    • You mention intermittent fasting and related approaches to eating – I’m a Muslim and we fast every day for a month once a year (sunrise to sunset). In the past though, I’ve always pigged out during the hours you’re allowed to eat and so have always gained weight after by the end of the month. Last year, I took a different approach which was to have a light breakfast at sunrise and a normal supper at sunset (while building in some healthy food choices), and had great results. This year, we’ll be fasting around September or so. My question is around the fact that while we fast, we don’t consume any liquids either i.e. no water. How does this affect the whole fasting for fat-loss equation, and how you recommend combating the downsides given the overall constraints of not eating/drinking anything between sunrise and sunset?
    • You’ve also mentioned not doing targeted muscle-building for legs, that overly muscular legs are ugly and that sprinting more than suffices. I totally agree with you except on one point – calves. They’re just so darn hard to build, and when they are reasonably big, I think its the one muscle that may actually make your body look more in proportion. The same applies to forearms. Both these muscles, when reasonably built on a slim person make a huge difference.
    • What are your views on vascularity? This is where you have prominent, visible veins. I’m not referring to the ugly bodybuilder type extreme, but the aesthetic and definition provided by, for example, those that run across your biceps, forearms, calves, etc.
    • Lastly, in your “James Bond” picture on the front, you seem to have a lot more muscle than one might imagine had they read your posts without seeing your picture!

    Best Regards

  7. After reviewing this site, you have some great ideas and some great posts. Naturally I disagree with a few things here and there, but I’m sure you would disagree with some of my ideas too.

    Great job on the site!

  8. Hey Rusty,

    I just wanted to drop a line and say that I agree with your fitness theories completely. One poster said he was offended by your remarks about fitness goals and then said he did not care what the ladies think. Well, that shows you that he isn’t reading what you are saying. I don’t think your blog comes across as attacking bodybuilders either. I see it as advice for people who have different goals from those of bodybuilders.

    I’m glad we live in a world that is diverse. Some women do like the bodybuilding look, that’s for sure. Yet, in the gym, it does seem like these guys often (not always of course) are trying to impress one another. Also, just as often, I find leaner guys such as myself being smirked at. I have a crawling, snell-like, metabolism. I gain muscle easily, however. Yet, when I do my shoulders get too big too quick and clothes look completely ridiculous on me. That is my personal opinion. So, I prefer to stay lean despite having to do cardio on most days and always watching my diet. I just look better that way.

    One last thing, your ideas about what so many women like (not all of course, I won’t generalize), also extend to gay men. There is a myth that gay men like the bodybuilder look, but it’s not based in reality. Some do, I’m sure of it, but as a gay man, I can tell you that huge muscles are not physically attractive to me nor anyone I know actually. That, of course, is not a scientific analysis of what women or gay men like. Yet, still, I’m sure that if such a study was completed there would be quite a few more proponents of the lean look rather than the huge look.

    Anyway, sorry this is so long. Good job.

    D

  9. Lea,

    I am not an expert on this, but most of the poor posture in the shoulders is due to having overdeveloped front delts compared to the rear delts and back. A great way to remedy this situation is to do seated cable rows with both narrow and wide grips. Pull back slowly and pull those shoulders back. In fact the reason I work back and chest on the same day is to insure that I pull my shoulders back at the end of the workout by doing seated cable rows. I know this isn’t a detailed answer, but hopefully it helps a bit.

    Rusty

  10. Hi, Rusty —

    I was wondering if you could do a post about specific exercises to improve posture, specifically addressing shoulders.

    I’ve been trying to find info online, but am just not finding anything helpful — anything that does seem applicable doesn’t give recommendations for specific exercises!

    Thanks!

    Lea

  11. Hi Rusty,

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and would just like to say good work. I really like your humorous approach to writing. It’s definitely something I need to start including more on my own blog. Particularly, enjoyed the post you did on Patrick Swayze and Road House. I’d never heard of it till a few years ago when it came on light night TV and I decided to give it a watch. It’s soooo cheesy but soooo good.

    Anyway, good luck with your future blogging. I look forward to more of your great posts.

    Tom Parker

  12. Jason,

    1) A pole vaulter needs a bit more than just a six pack. I would recommend hanging leg raises…a bunch of different variations. This is going to mimic the ab strength needed in your sport. Then maybe end with planks.
    2) 6 foot 1 in and 150 pounds…and you say you are “skinny fat”. You probably have the easiest body type to make quick improvements. Gain functional strength by doing 5 sets of 5 reps:

    Day 1) Three exercises for a total of 15 sets each for Back and Chest…(a grand total of 30 quality sets of 5 reps)

    Day 2) Two exercises a piece for Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps…10 sets each (a grand total of 30 quality sets of 5 reps)

    Do your ab work 3 times per week. Hit interval cardio hard for 20 minutes after each workout.

    3) Avoid soy protein. It can increase your estrogen levels and contribute to stubborn body fat.

    4) Shin Splints eventually go away over time, but I found that an exercise bike can accelerate the process.

    Rusty

  13. how it going,
    1)I am a pole vaulter and need very strong abs without the bulk. I was wondering if you think that the plank would be sufficient for this or if you think that i could build stronger lean abs with a turbulence type training with weighted ab exercises?
    2) i am 6 ft 1 in and 150 lbs. I am pretty athletic, however i am skinny but kind of flabby(strange combination but true). Any suggestions on how to get toned without losing weight? (diet or exercise)
    3) Soy Vs. Whey Protein?
    4) any knowledge on how to get rid of shin splints?
    Sorry for so many questions. I think that this website is great.
    Jason

  14. Hey man,

    I really like your site; I’ve started using some of the things I’ve read and it’s kicked the crap out of me.

    I am training for mountain bike racing this summer, specifically downhill and slalom. Downhill runs are 2-5 minutes long, and slalom races are usually a bunch of rounds of sub 1 minutes runs. I haven’t raced in a few years, but I race at a very high level, and I don’t want to be held back by not being in proper shape. Obviously, looking good is a secondary objective.

    I had a pretty good routine going balancing lifting, cardio and plyos. I need to be explosively fast for a relatively short period of time, and my upper body needs to be able to take the beating of a downhill run.

    This is what downhill looks like:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?samhill

    That’s the best racer in the world right now, so it gives you an idea of what it SHOULD look like haha.

    As I said, my training was going pretty well… until I was doing plyos the other morning, rolled my ankle and went down with all of my weight on the outside of my right foot, breaking it. So now I’m in a boot.

    The season starts in early May, and would really like to lose as little training time as possible due to this injury. Obviously I can’t do plyos, and I can lift for my upper body…but do you have any ideas about what I can do to keep/build leg strength and keep working on cardio without putting too much stress on my foot? My main concern is that it heals fast and properly, but as I said, I really want to be in top physical form for the season. Thanks a lot, I hope you have some ideas.

    Trevor

  15. jsw,

    You have to concentrate on diet and cardio to get your body fat down to a lower level. Various chest lifts won’t help you lose that fat.

    timothy,

    Very clever comment buddy. Even though your post disagrees with my blog…how could I not include it? Very good response and I am actually laughing at myself a bit.

    As far as finding a seriously hardcore gym to the level you are describing, you typically have to find a Gold’s gym or privately owned gym. These are typically located in the outskirts of the major cities, where land is a bit cheaper. These private gyms don’t have huge corporate backing like the bigger gyms. My gym still has a certain element to this, but not at the level you are describing.

    Although I clown a bit on hardcore gyms, I have had serious workouts in a few. Back when I was into heavy dead lifting and squatting in my mid-20’s, I belonged to a Gold’s gym in Renton (outside of Seattle). Jesse Marunde, World’s Strongest Man competitor, ran the gym with his wife. Unfortunately Jesse passed away this past summer. I only spoke with him a few times, but he was a super cool guy. He gave me tips on how to improve grip strength for dead lifts by doing “suitcase holds” with a barbell in a power rack.

    Although I poke fun of bulky guys and gals…it really is all in fun.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Rusty

  16. Where, oh where, is your gym! A gym full of pumped-up “meat heads” lifting heavy, listening to heavy metal and wearing baggy gym pants is my idea of HEAVEN!

    Every gym I’ve been in for the past five years is a “fitness center” full of boring bodies doing yoga and stairclimbers. There aren’t any more serious gyms with serious builders, so far as I can tell.

    Keeping people from bulking up with muscle doesn’t seem like that much of a challenge. Today, all anyone does is lean body toning at the gym. You seem to be running around with a fire extinguisher during a flood, or rushing to the gunwale of the lifeboat that’s already under water.

    -BLTim

  17. I am wondering. If I am in pretty good overall shape and still having trouble getting rid of some extra fat on the lower part of my chest (and I am a male)….what is the best way to rid of the most difficult part of the fat for me to lose. I am doing more incline benchpresses, flys, and watching what I eat. Thanks.

  18. Katie,

    I was going to recommend upping your carbs on your normal diet, but this could be more of a mental barrier. Will you do me a favor and begin reading Steve Pavilna’s blog. It will help you a ton! Seriously…read his most popular posts along with his audios, etc. It’s all free and could be life changing for you (I know that is saying a lot, but this blog is amazing)… http://stevepavlina.com

    Andrew,

    I do 20 minutes of sprinting intervals on a level 1.5-2.0 incline. The first 5 minutes I work up to level 10 speed. I alternate level 10 for one minute then 3.8 for one minute, then level 10.2 for one minute 3.8 for one minute, level 10.4 for one minute back to 3.8. I work up to a level that hurts and then repeat that alternating with 3.8. Occasionally I’ll get up to a few sets of level 12.

    After that tough HIIT workout, I’ll hit the stair step machine that has actual stairs like an escalator. I start at level 9 and then just add .2 to .3 in speed every minute until it is tough. I do that for 15-20 minutes. At this point I’m normally done, but sometimes I’ll throw in 10 minutes of slow and steady on the exercise bike.

    Hope that helps,

    Rusty

  19. Hi Russ,
    I was reading about the rotating diet of a few days on low carbs and then a day on high carbs. I liked the article a lot and was just wondering what a workout on a day of high intensity cardio would look like for you. I realize that you are in better shape than your average person and thus it would vary a great deal between different individuals, but I was just curious how it would go for you so that I can try to get a better idea of what I might want to try. Thanks!!

  20. Oh! And to be clear, these binges happen ON TOP OF my normal, clean diet, so they don’t happen out of hunger. And it’s not a crazy restrictive diet either; just healthy. And while I am lucky to be young and still have a nice, athletic body, I can’t imagine what’s going on inside and I know I could have a phenomenal body if I overcame this psychological barrier.

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