I’ve always been the skinny one.

Seriously look what happens when I climb mountains and doing too much cardio stuff….


borneo skinny

The official term given to people like me who are supposedly doomed to live a life of wishing and hoping for some muscles is ‘ectomorph’.

It basically means “You my friend are going to have to do some bodybuilding and eat more than the population of a small African country if you’re going to even see your bicep twitch.”

Or so I thought.

Since I started getting into training seriously about 8 years ago, I’ve actually discovered that I (like most young lads being ‘educated’ by bodybuilding magazines) have been making some big mistakes.

Then stuff started working (PS I am not wearing a nappy that’s a pair of rolled up shorts)

jons transformation


Here’s the 9 biggest mistakes you want to avoid:

1) 3 sets of 10

This seems to have become the standard set and rep scheme used by guys across the world which to anyone with a bit more research and testing behind substitutes for “I really don’t know what to do today so let’s hit up 3 sets of 10”.

I’ve had much better results combining all parts of the strength spectrum from heavy singles to explosive movements to 5×5, 4×8 and 3×10 and some high intensity conditioning to keep work capacity up. Not always necessary, I just like to know when the shit hits the fan, physically I’m ready and won’t gas out running from a zombie when Armageddon comes.

This trains different types of muscle fibres so you get bigger AND stronger with a more athletic physique rather than just pure bulk.

The increased strength and power from the low rep sets also carries over and enables you to go heavier on your sets of 6-12 increasing the stress you can put on your muscles.

2) Just doing straight linear sets.

Typically, guys pick a weight they can do for the reps and do 3-4 sets at that weight.

I prefer more progression through the session to allow my nervous system to crank up.

Say I’m doing 5×5 today, the first 2 sets will be ‘prep’ sets followed by 3 big sets. If I can nail all three big ones at the same weight, the weight goes up the next time.

Something like this: 50kg, 80kg, 100kg, 100kg, 100kg.

I also like a back off set at the end, particularly for muscle building.

So we might do a set of 10 to get going, followed by a set of 8, set of 6, then a back off set of 10-12. This final set let’s us take advantage of the nervous system firing that occurs with the heavy middle sets.

I also like ‘wave loading’ where you might do a set of 5 then, 3, then 2 then repeat the sets once or twice but with more on each corresponding set like this.

5 @ 50kg

3 @ 70kg

2 @ 80kg

5 @ 60kg

3 @ 80kg

2 @ 90kg

Again this enables you to get quite a lot of volume in but also prime your nervous system for increasingly bigger sets.

This has helped me get back to deadlifting nearly 2.3 times BW after a load of injuries.

3) Lifting at the same speeds.

This doesn’t mean you need to do more power based training such as Olympic Lifting.

It means when you are performing bench press, military press, bicep curls or whatever, you should look to vary the speed with which you complete reps…also known as the tempo.

Typical lifting involves letting gravity shove the weight down then our unsuspecting muscle builder just bouncing it back up.

Much more stress can be put on the muscles by controlling the eccentric (downward) phase of your bench press for instance, taking 3-4 seconds to get to the end of the range, then 2-3 seconds back up. This can make a HUGE difference to the effect of the session.

However, I believe that even if muscle building is your primary aim, we should always look to keep fast movements in our arsenal and so it’s good to mix it up and throw in some more explosive concentric (upward) phase, taking just one second to fire the weight back up.

Generate more tension in each rep and you’ll see changes happening fast but don’t lose sight of the pleasure of being a fast moving, powerful human! (The great bodybuilders of the past regular lifted fast along with the high volume work but this has been lost in some modern methods).

Lock-In 2014_Bout-4-38_CANVAS SAMPLE

4) Trying to be everything at once.

Most guys in most gyms these days want to be huge, ripped, bodybuilding, UFC fighting, ninja monsters with the stamina of an Olympic rower.

It’s been done but realistically you probably can’t.

That’s not limited mentality, that’s 99.99999% of the gene pool.

Decide what you’re aiming for and go do it.

Doing 3 heavy upper body sessions to bulk up and then trying to do 10 hard rounds three times a week on the focus pads is not going to work. You’re boxing will be shit because you’re tired, and when your shoulders start playing up due to lack of rest, so will your lifting.

5) Not resting

Muscle grows when it is rested and fed and the nervous system needs time to refire and rewire.

If you are always doing more and more and constantly in the gym because you’re ‘going hardcore’ neither will recover and not only will you be permanently tired but your stress hormones will be on overdrive which involves reduce testosterone, increased estrogen, increased cortisol and a whole host of other stuff you don’t want in your life on a regular basis.

Expect no muscle growth, increased or maintained fat levels and sheer frustration.

6) Thinking eating 6-7 times per day is the only way to grow.

Yes, you have to get enough calories in and most people don’t eat enough.

However, if you are stressed when eating as most people are you will not digest or assimilate nearly the amounts you think you are and it can do more damage than good in the medium to long term.

For some people the stress of trying to find time to eat is worse than not eating at all.

As I write this I have put on 3kg since my kickboxing fight and generally I am eating 2 meals per day, sometimes 1. But I am less stressed about having to find time during a busy business period. More time relaxing, deep breathing and controlling stress hormones is enabling me to train harder, lift heavier and make much progress.

A lot of guys these days are in a circle of stress at work, unhappy relationships, trying to push hard at the gym fuelled by caffeine drinks, poor sleep and crap food.

Take some time to slow down, rest and recover then when you’re in the gym, go f*cking mental.

I’m an ectomorph growing on less calories than I’ve ever eaten.

Learn to manage your nervous system before you mindlessly shovel food in.

Hormone balance trumps calories every day of the week for muscle building and fat loss and it comes from managing the intensities and stresses in your life.

Relaxing, breathing and meditating is not for pussies.

Seriously, all the fighters are doing it.

When you breathe deeply, you change from being in fight or flight mode to rest and recovery mode.

You switch from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system.

Where as the former involves stress, reduced growth hormone, reduced testosterone and increased adrenaline (preventing or greatly reducing nutrient storage), the latter is where you want to be as much as possible outside of training time.

This comes with higher metabolic rate, increased anabolic hormones and all in all, more muscle and less fat.

But you CANNOT get to that state if you’re always stressing and overtraining and shallow breathing as you buzz around life.


7) Working on the ‘upper front’.

Do more deadlifts, squats, reverse hyper work, power cleans, hang cleans, bent over rows and carrying heavy shit for as long as you can.

Pull more than you push.

This will produce more systemic growth that transfers to all areas and better overall results than days dedicated purely to ‘abs and arms’.

8) Spending too long in the gym.

There is always another exercise you could do, another weight you could pick up. You’re rarely going to reach a point where you physically can’t move.

Draw the line at 4-5 exercises done for 25-40 reps in various sets and rep schemes

Train 3-4 times per week.

The rest of the time eat, sleep and rebuild.

95% of guys don’t need any more than that and can go enjoy life at the same time.

If you want to be a pro-bodybuilder, down the line, you may need some body part splits, but even then, an amazing body can be forged without them.

Building muscle need not be and shouldn’t be an effort of endurance and spending as much time in the gym as you can.

Get in, turn your phone off, train every set and rep with intensity and passion and drive, then get out.

Why get a great body if you’re only ever going to show it off in the gym?

Go to the beach, go have sex, go see your mates, go hang with your girlfriend.

Change your thinking on how muscle building needs to be done.

You’re a normal guy – normal guys don’t go to the gym for 3 hours every night.

9) Doing what you think at the time.

If you don’t have a clear program to follow you will ALWAYS end up:

– Doing what you like because it’s easy for you

– Resting too much in sessions

– Leaving out the most effective exercises

– Missing sessions

– Hampering your growth.

There’s never a nice time to do deep squats.

There’s never a good moment in life to do heavy cleans.

But it’s the stuff that will push your results through the roof and you need someone to kick your ass to do it for long enough.

Trying to figure it all out yourself will take you YEARS if you ever manage it because realisitically, we’re all busy and just want to get stuff done!

We’re combining all of these concepts of time efficiency, stimulation for your mind and body, variety, progression, planning and LIVING into the Hustle and Muscle program in our new gym.

BUT…you can get on it for the NEXT 48 HOURS wherever you are in the world because we’re running the 12 WEEK program online through a private Facebook group where you’ll have me there to coach you every day whenever you need it.

I’m only taking 20 guys so get involved now. REMEMBER WE START ON MONDAY.

For 12 weeks you’ll have me coaching you giving you all the training and nutrition plans you need with the follow up coaching to make sure you get it done.

As soon as you’re registered you’ll be sent to the private Facebook coaching group where you can access me daily for advice, progressions and adaptations.


Hustle and muscle poster