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Q and A with the Texas Titan Branch Warren

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  • Q and A with the Texas Titan Branch Warren

    I am trying to gain weight, but have been stuck at a plateau for about six months. No matter how much more I eat, how much more I train (even training less so I am not overtraining), I cannot gain weight. I am taking in about 250 grams of protein per day (if not more) from whole food sources and about 300 grams of carbs. Should I up my carbs, and if so, with what and by how much?

    You didn't say how much you weigh. If you weigh about 170, then 250 grams of protein represents 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, which is about ideal for most bodybuilders. If you are much heavier than that, you aren't getting enough. There are no rules for amounts of carbs, but generally when you are trying to gain, you want twice as many carbs as protein, or in your case, 500 grams. You also need healthy fats to grow, and you should be getting those from red meat, whole eggs, salmon, nuts, and flaxseed oil. Don't be afraid to eat fattier meat sources like chicken thighs, and lean cuts of pork like chops. Add some more carbs from whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, rice, and sweet potatoes. Needless to say, you should be trying to eat every 2-3 hours.
    You didn't tell me anything about your training. Are you focusing on big, multi-joint movements like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, barbell rows, dips and military presses? You have to move heavy free weights and really challenge yourself to keep getting stronger, training in the 6-10 rep range for upper body, and 10-20 rep range for the lower body.
    If you aren't busting your ass in the gym with the toughest exercises and feeding your body as much quality food as it needs, you can't grow.

    What changes did you make in your training or nutrition that allowed you to keep cardio to a minimum and carbs still fairly high? I mean, you were a 'shredder' and you did way less cardio and ate more carbs than usual? How did you manage that?

    I worked with George Farah, and it really boiled down to me going back to doing things the way I used to back in my amateur days. I kept my carbs high, my protein high of course, and my fats low. It's all about doing what works for you. I got in such good shape following my 'old school' diet that in the last month I was never doing more than 30 minutes of cardio a day. There have been several contest preps in recent years when I was doing upward of 2 freaking hours of cardio a day. Never again!

    When you first started weightlifting/bodybuilding, when did you see results of your hard work in the gym and your nutrition?

    I began to see results almost immediately. I was very fortunate to start out with the right program from day one. There were older lifters around me who saw how hard I was trying, and wanted me to get the best results possible. Also, I have to give some credit to my genetics. When someone has above-average genetics for bodybuilding, as I and all the other pros do, it doesn't take more than a year of hard training before you start to see some fairly noticeable changes.
    Don't let that discourage you, though. Just because it may take you longer, that doesn't mean you can't build an impressive physique, too. Keep working hard in the gym, get plenty of good food and rest, and you will grow slowly but surely.

    Since you're the 'Texas Titan,' I was wondering if I could get some insight on your great state. I may be moving to Lubbock and I'd like to know if those Texas stereotypes— hunting, conservative, hell-raiser— are true. If so, that sounds like my state. I grew up not far from there, and I can confirm that all those stereotypes are accurate. We love to hunt in Texas, our political views tend to lean toward being pretty conservative, and we believe in strong Christian values. As for hell-raising, young people anywhere you go in the USA would probably fit that bill. I don't think there is any particular part of the country that has a monopoly on partying. If that's your scene, you will be able to find it just about anywhere.

    I was thinking about doing deadlifts on their own day. What other body part I should train them with?

    I was doing them for a long time with shoulders, until I tore my triceps and couldn't go so heavy anymore. Now I just do them with back. If you do them on another day, that could be with chest or shoulders. I would advise against deadlifting on leg day. You're already squatting (at least you should be!), and that's a hell of a beating to put on your lower back in one workout.
    I also don't think you should do deadlifts after biceps. You need the bi's to be fresh for deads or else they will definitely turn into a 'weak link' in the chain and severely screw up your deadlifts. If you really want to specialize on deadlifts, you could do them on their own day for about 8-10 work sets. A split like this could work:

    Sunday: OFF
    Monday: Deadlifts and calves
    Tuesday: Shoulders and triceps
    Wednesday: OFF
    Thursday: Back
    Friday: Legs
    Saturday: Chest and biceps