Becoming a caveman part 1: Measurements of a modern man

3 Feb

So, week 1 has started of  my latest endeavor to build muscle while following a paleo lifestyle. First things first, I wanted to lay out my goal, the various principles I will be following, my current baseline and also the workout I’ll be using.

The goal

The goal is quite simple: build +4kg of lean mass while following a paleo diet and using a body weight exercise routine. There are obviously several other questions that arise from using this approach, for example, will I build muscle while also reducing body fat? Can body weight exercises be effective for building mass? etc, etc. Questions I’m definitely hoping to answer, although the goal is still all about adding mass. For the reasons, check out my previous post here

The muscle building principles

For my workout I will be following the principles outlined in Tim Ferriss’ 4 hour body, in his chapter ‘Geek to Freak’. This book is a must read and throws cold water on most conventional wisdom when it comes to all things body related. For now I’ll outline the key principles I’ll be following, although I strongly suggest reading the book or looking online for more detail:

  1. The goal of each exercise set is to go to failure and achieve 80-120 seconds time under tension
  2. Use a 5 second up and 5 second down cadence on all exercises
  3. Only perform one set of each exercise with a max of 10 exercises
  4. Have at least 2 full rest days between workouts, building up to 3 days after 4 workouts
  5. Eat at least 1.25g of protein per day for every 1lb of lean body mass

Tim addresses the question of how many calories in his book saying he has never counted calories when following his protocol. Quite simply, if you don’t put weight on, just eat more. Another important point is working to true failure, i.e. not being able to do a single rep even if your life depended on it. Again, read the book for more detail, trust me it’s excellent.

Paleo principles

The paleo lifestyle is centered on eating foods that were readily available during our time as hunters and gatherers, e.g. fruit, veg, meat, fish, nuts and seeds, and avoiding foods that humans have only eaten since the birth of agriculture. E.g. dairy, grains, legumes and any refined carbohydrates etc, etc. There is no way I could cover everything that consists of a paleo diet, so the suggestion here is to use Robb Wolf’s website or read his excellent book ‘The Paleo Solution’. There are other people out there, although I’m fairly new to the whole paleo thing and I’m currently getting my information from his resources.

For the actual foods I will be eating, this is already going to be a long post, so I’ll cover that next week.

Measurements of a modern man (my current baseline)

Weight = 93.6kg (weighed in the morning before breakfast and after the bathroom)

Body fat % = ~14%

This means that at the start I need to consume 223g of protein per day, which I’ll then need to increase as my weight increases.

So that would be the only two measurements I’d need, to measure my goal. However, I’m also interested in where I build the mass, so I’ve also taken the following measurements:

Upper arm = 13 & 13.2 inches (my left arm is slightly bigger)

Forearm = 12 inches

Chest = 47 inches

Shoulders = 51 inches

Waist = 35 inches

Hips =40.5 inches

Thigh = 23.5 & 24 inches (this time the right is slightly bigger, strange…)

Waist Hip Ratio = 0.86

Also, here is the before picture…..


The workout

I won’t cover the principles again, just the exercises and some questions I have rolling around in my head. For example, if I’m using bodyweight exercises there will be some that are too hard and some that are too easy. I.e. I will not reach 80 seconds time under tension if the exercises is too hard, or I will too easily reach 120 seconds time under tension if the exercises is too easy. There are some exercises I can add weight to, although for others I have decided to just slow the cadence down if I hit 12 reps (remember 5 up & 5 down) and I will just go to failure even I don’t quite hit 8 reps. It’s all an experiment, so I’m interested to see what happens. Anyway, I’m rambling, the workout….

Warmup doing core and ab exercises (only one set of each following same failure principles)

  1. Torture twist one set 5 reps each side adding
  2. Bosu ball crunches
  3. Bosu ball leg raises (i.e. reverse of the crunch picking your feet off the floor)
  4. Bosu ball back extension

Main exercises

  1. Pull up using my BJJ belt (a towel will also do) super set with close grip chins using gymnastic rings (failure both times)
  2. Single leg pistol squat
  3. Tricep press up super set with gymnastic ring dips (again both to failure)
  4. Hamstring raises
  5. Handstand press up
  6. Horizontal rows

That’s it. For most of these exercises you can google and find an explanation, although I’m very happy to post pictures & descriptions if needed, just let me know.

Also, one final point, I will add that I also train BJJ ~4 times per week and cycle to work 3 times per week. So, it could be argued any gains I see are also a product of this other physical activity. However, I have maintained a fairly stable body composition for the past few years and the changes I’m implementing are focused on nutrition and my strength and conditioning work out. That being said, these other variables are fairly constant both before and after so shouldn’t have too much impact, just means I’ll probably need to eat more to addresses the additional calories burnt!


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