Efficient Physique - Part 1

Fitness 4 Full-Timers: Look Good Working 9-5


Inspired by @ketoaurelius @BowTiedBulldog @BowTiedOx @BowTiedBreath

Fitness for Full-timers

How to feel good and look good on a (time) budget.

The bodybuilding industry is packed full with “bro science” and “supplement salesmen”. The audience is often 15-35 year old men seeking advice on how to build muscle mass and lose fat. Yet...somehow...Arnold and the “OG” Bodybuilders found success with a natural diet, few supplements, and (of course) steroids.

Objectives of Article
  1. How to Build Muscle: Schwarzenegger Principles, 1970s

  2. Efficiency: How YOU can look good and feel good with limited time to eat and train

Old School Diet, 1970s

High-Fat, High-protein, Low-Carb

Meat, Eggs, Fish, Chicken, Vegetables

Blair’s Protein Powder

Free Weights

Compound Lifts

*questionable steroids

New School Diet

High-Carb: bread, pasta, granola bars, nuts, chicken, fish

Whey Protein Powder




Exercise Machines

Isolation Exercises


Dozens of Supplements

Do you think Arnold used all this crap in the 1970s competing for Mr. Olympia…?


Arnold’s “Shocking Principle”


Formula →  Progressive Overload + Variance = Muscle Growth

Four Principles of Weight Lifting

  1. Variance

  2. Overload

  3. Progression

  4. Recovery

*Progress Overload + Variance = Muscle Growth

*Recovery / Sleep will be covered in subsequent articles

80 / 20 Rule

80% of muscle growth comes from compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, press, etc.) because the exercises target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. We are meant to use our entire bodies in movement and motion, not isolated exercises (ex: bicep curl).

80/20 Rule: 

80% Compound Lifts

20% Isolated Lifts

Compound Lifts (80%)

High intensity, low volume of repetitions on compound lifts provide progressive overload to multiple muscle groups AT THE SAME TIME.

Compound Lifts → Tool Box of Exercises:

Primary Compound Lifts

  1. Squat - Front/Back

  2. Deadlift - Straight / Hex / Romanian

  3. Bench Press - Incline/Decline/Flys/Dumbbells

  4. Military Press

  5. Pull-Ups

  6. Bent-Over Rows

Isolation Lifts and Muscle Groups (20%)


Tricep Extension

Bicep Curl

Narrow Dumbbell Press

Tricep Dips


Bent-Over Row

Romanian Deadlift

T-Bar Row

Straight-Leg Deadlift




Leg Press

Leg Extension

Straight-Leg Deadlifts


Front Squat Lunges

Good Morning Exercise


Leg Raises




Bench Press

Incline Press

Dumbbell Flys

Principle #1: Variance

Minor changes in the number of sets, repetitions, and motion of a given exercise maximize muscle growth by “keeping the body guessing.”

  1. Sub-Type of Compound Lift (ex: front v back squat)

  2. # Repetitions, # Sets

  3. Recovery Time between Sets

  4. Repetition to failure v holding (pause set)

Example → Bench Press

Day 1: 3 sets, 6 repetitions, Flat Bench

Day 4: 3 sets, 8 repetitions, Incline Bench (dumbbells)

Compound Lifts are a toolbox. Use the same set of tools in different ways to provide variance and progressive overload.

Principle #2, #3: Progression & Overload

Increase weight, frequency, intensity, or repetitions of exercises to maximize muscle growth.

Four Components of Progressive Overload:

  1. Execute Exhaustion → finish each set struggling on the last repetition

  2. Increase Weight

  3. Increase Repetitions

  4. Increase Tempo (recovery time between sets)

Schawrzenegger Diet - 1970s 

7 Time Mr. Olympia Champion

Professional Bodybuilders swore by a low-carb, high-fat (and protein) diet.





White rice

Protein Sources:






Fat Sources:

Whole Milk



Nut Butters


Dried Beef Liver tablets (high nutrient density)

Blair’s Protein Powder (milk/egg mixture)


Leafy Greens

Sweet Potatoes

Brown Rice


Nuts / Nut Butters


Rep Ranges - What’s Your Objective

The frequency of sets and repetitions depends entirely on YOUR goals!

  • Lifters: Peak Power → 1-4 Reps

  • Builders: Bulk Mass --> 5-8 Reps

  • Showers: Maintain Physique → 8-20 Reps 

  1. Max Strength: 1-5 Reps

  2. Max Size: 6-12 Reps

  3. Max Definition: 12+ Reps

Training Schedule for the Working Man: 9-5 Life

Changing your body composition while working full-time is no small feat. Discipline and efficiency is necessary to maximize your “ROI” in the gym.

Two Variables in determining Training Schedule:

  1. # of Days available per Week

  2. Personal Objective: Build Strength, Size, or Definition (ref: Rep Ranges)

Workout Splits - Time Management

Example Schedule → 

Time: 5 Days per Week

Goal: Build Size

Example Schedule → 

Time: 4 Days per Week

Goal: Maximize Strength

Push, Pull, Legs

Remember: 80/20 Rule → 80% Compound Lifts

Toolbox Cheat Sheet → 

Upper, Lower

Remember: 80/20 Rule → 80% Compound Lifts

Toolbox Cheat Sheet → 

Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Fasting (Eat 4-6 meals is ideal for bodybuilding)

  2. Excess Alcohol (beer, wine, sugary cocktails)

  3. Sleep < 7 hours per day


Eat Meat, Stop Jogging by Mike Sheridan

Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Carnivore Diet by Shawn Baker, MD

Lies My Doctor Told Me by Dr. Ken Berry, M.D.

Memento Mori,