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Scrawny to Brawny: The Complete Guide to Building Muscle the Natural Way Paperback – March 24, 2005
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About the Author
MICHAEL MEJIA, exercise advisor and contributing editor to Men's Health magazine, is a strength and conditioning coach who owns and operates his own training facility in Long Island, New York. Coauthor of The Home Workout Bible, he designed the workouts for the popular Testosterone Advantage Plan.
JOHN BERARDI is a strength and nutrition specialist whose company specializes in designing strength and nutrition plans for elite athletes and recreational fitness buffs. He currently resides in Toronto, Canada.
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Chapter 3 is the correct way to lift. However, as we learn in Chapter 6, we don't actually do any of these lifts in Phase I. Phase I is simply a "corrective phase," which prepares you for the big lifts. Shouldn't these lifts be learned when the time comes to do them?
Let's focus some more on chapter 6. After you do the self evaluation on page 76, it starts going into stretching on page 77. Huh? Seems to me the step after filling out the self evaluation is putting together a Phase I workout template like on page 93. Why is stretching in the middle? Then after the Phase I workout templates are the actual exercises you would be doing. I found putting together a Phase I workout rather confusing, and wish it would have been presented a bit clearer, but I did eventually figure it out and put something together.
Another complaint is that it seems to contain a good deal of fluff, perhaps to give the book length. This is very common in most books today. I'm certain many ideas could've been communicated much more succinctly. Sometimes I found myself reading the same points multiple times even though it had already been clearly communicated.
I was impressed with the nutrition portion of the book. I did find all the calculations in chapter 13 a bit confusing. I recommend using the Cunningham equation calculator on vishalharia.com instead. It will quickly generate the number of calories you need on rest days, and how many you need on work-out days. That is, unless you enjoy math and double checking all your numbers. After I started eating the number of calories the book suggested I noticed I started putting on a lot more fat than muscle, so I had to cut back on the calories. I learned from this book that I'm actually not a "hard gainer" at all, I just naturally ate too little.
Here are your workouts. Phases I through III have you working out 3 days a week.
Phase I: A custom "corrective" phase that basically strengthens the smaller supporting muscles first.
Phase II: 5x5 workouts
Phase III: Wave loading
Phase IV: 4 days a week divided into upper body and lower body days.
My biggest complaint was the lack of calf exercises in Phases II and III, and there's really only one short isolation exercise in Phases I and IV. That's two months with absolutely no work done on the calves. My back and shoulders exploded in size over this time, but my calves actually shrank. I was embarrassed when wearing shorts. I actually ended up adding 6 sets of calve raises on a smith machine (2 toes in, 2 normal, 2 toes out).
After completing this program you'll be bigger, but you won't look like the "brawny" guy on the cover. It will take several years to look like that. You'll have to bulk up for a long time, and then "cut" to remove the excess fat. Cutting basically means reducing your caloric intake to reduce body fat percentage to 12% or less. I didn't learn about this until I read a different book titled "Bigger, Leaner, Stronger."
After I completed this program I moved on to the "One Year Challenge" of "Bigger, Leaner, Stronger." It's a 7-phase, 52-week plan. Here you're lifting 4 days a week plus two days of cardio. Every 2 months you take a week off. Scrawny to Brawny doesn't talk at all about "cutting," which is what you'll need to get that "6-pack" that everyone wants. So while this book is a good introduction for the scrawny guys, to look like the muscular guy on the cover you'll need more than just this book.
Part 2: Nutrition
Chapter 10: Why you probably failed in the past. (Typical eating habits suck at building muscle.)
Chapter 11: Grocery list for a week's worth of food.
Chapter 12: Example recipe for a single meal.
Chapter 13: Calculate your daily calorie needs with the Cunningham Equation. Increase or decrease meals by 250 calories every two weeks depending if you meet your goals.
Chapter 14: Nutrient Timing. What you eat at which times is very important. Workout days are broken into four eating phases: energy, anabolic, growth, recovery.
I will note that this book isn't put together very well. By the time I finished the book it had started falling apart at multiple locations on the spine. :\
The thing is this- if you're already training, this will be an adjustment for you. If you've never trained, it'll be easier for you.
The principle of this book is looking at exercise in a different way. It takes conventional training and tosses it out the window. When I started this book I had started training 6 months prior. I'm a surfer guy who's tall and lanky. In the 6 months prior, I had gained 8 pounds.
I went through a corrective phase and that was the hardest spot. You have to do a series of workouts for 2-4 weeks. In that time I experienced no gains at all. On the same note, that phase wasn't meant to either. But going from a set routine to switching to a corrective phase is challenging. I feel like I was going in reverse. The book recommends not being as active to keep your metabolism at bay. With that in mind, for me, it was impossible. I am a surfer, snowboarder, and boat driver. I can find a day where I'm not super active. I reevaluated my goals and ceased the program.
I do like the information the books gives you. I learned a lot about exercising using compound movements. I'm so grateful I learned about the imprortance of the, because it has made me much stronger. Actually, even though I'm not following the program anymore, I use more compound movements than anything in my workouts now.
I would recommend this book to anyone who want to start from square 1 or if your goals are getting big. The thing with getting big is you have to commit. You can't go halfway with this program. Good luck.
Most recent customer reviews
It's math. It's real science.
It is for one type of guy and it's a minority: The Ectomorph, The Hard Gainer.Read more