If you’ve been asking the following questions..
- Should I bulk, cut, or recomp?
- How many days a week should I train each body part?
- Should I be eating paleo, keto, low-glycemic, or following a flexible diet?
- What how many reps per set should I be doing?
- How often, if ever, should I train to failure?
- Which dietary supplements are worth the money?
- What was the greatest video game of all time?
…You’re in the right place
A few years ago, I found myself asking all of these questions–and frankly, I was stumped. There’s an endless amount of information out there, and a lot of it is contradictory. You should lift heavy with long rests…wait no, actually you should circuit train and keep rests as short as possible. Wait no, maybe you just need one set to failure…I could go on, but you get the picture.
The good news, as you’ve probably realized by now, is that you don’t need to have all the answers in order to make some progress. You can lift weights a few times a week, eat more protein and vegetables, and cut back on the beer, and you’ll build some muscle and lose some fat–for a while at least. Until it stops working.
At some point though, “eat healthy and get some exercise” stops being enough. Eventually you need to start understanding how all of this works so you can figure out what what you need to do next.
Eventually I realized that if I ever wanted to make sense of what I was reading, I had to do more than just take in a lot of information. True understanding requires going beyond mere accumulation of facts–so I learned to evaluate the information I was taking in, and understand why what worked for other people didn’t always work for me. Most importantly, I started going directly to the source, by looking at scientific research on health and fitness.
I still don’t have all the answers- but I have a lot of them. Remember all those questions at the top of this page? It turns out the answers to most of them are different for everyone.
Except the video game question. The greatest video game of all time is Allegiance. This is not debatable.
Here’s what this site is all about
In a nutshell: evidence-based fitness solutions for people who want to build world-class physiques without having to live like a monk or take more drugs than Keith Richards.
If you want to build sixpack abs, a Kardashian-sized booty, or start benching twice your bodyweight, it’s not enough to train harder–you also need to train smarter. Smart bros and swolemaidens understand that we can’t just follow the program designed by the guy with the most veins popping out of his arms, or the crash diet being pushed by the model with the slimmest waist. We know we need to do two things: base our decisions as much as possible on sound scientific evidence, and follow programs optimized for us as individuals. A few examples:
- Your best training program isn’t the one that leave you feeling the most tired or sore–it’s the one that lets you train for the greatest volume per week while still recovering fully.
- The whole carbs vs fat thing is kind of overrated–but to the extent that it matters, the ideal mix is different for everyone. Even if you have the same body type and activity level I do, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should eat the same way.
- “8-12 reps for hypertrophy” is bullshit. Some of us will build the most muscle at that rep range, others should do sets of five, and a rare few will actually build more muscle by lifting super light weights for thirty reps or more.
- Many of the most popular, must-do exercises are actually less than optimal. The bench press and squat are good, but can be improved by adding resistance bands. Most other barbell exercises are inferior to their dumbbell counterparts. Conventional deadlifts are a potentially dangerous waste of time, at least if your goal is to burn fat or build muscle mass.
- Body part splits are a waste, and most people should be doing an upper-lower split or training full-body.
- Cardio is great for your health, but it can be counterproductive to your physique unless you do the right kinds of cardio at the right time.
- Ice cream is awesome. Also, you can totally eat it sometimes, especially once you get lean, build some muscle, and stay active. But mainly, it’s awesome. Especially that chocolate-caramel-vanilla swirl from Trader Joe’s.
Here at this site, we cut past industry cliches and follow science-based, personalized programs that allow us to achieve the best possible results in the fastest possible time–so that we can build strong, healthy bodies while also living balanced, healthy and fulfilling lives.
Who am I?
My name is John Fawkes, and I wasn’t always jacked. Or bald, for that matter. Once upon a time, I was a nerdy little kid who was severely underweight, unathletic, shy, and got sick every damn week. At the age of eighteen, I was five feet eight inches tall, and weighed 110 pounds. My my protruding ribs and stick-figure limbs, I looked like something between Christian Bale in The Machinist and Tom Hanks in Castaway.
The first big turning point for me was in college, when I tried to join a martial arts group on campus. They rejected me because I got so winded during tryouts, they thought I was going to have a heart attack. I started hitting the gym and eating modestly healthier (by which I mean putting vegetables in my ramen and switching to light beer), and the next semester I tried out again and was accepted into the club. To this day, I am the only person who ever came back and tried again after being turned away; everyone else simply gave up. I ended up becoming vice president of that club.
After college I was no longer underweight- instead I was moderately skinny, with a serious beer gut. So I cut back on the drinking and for the first time in my life, started making a real effort to cut out sugar and eat more meat and vegetables, and the fat started coming off.
After moving from my hometown of San Diego to my current home in San Francisco, I spent a few years working in sales- and I HATED it. I knew corporate life wasn’t for me, so I quit to follow my passion–educating people about health and fitness–while supporting myself with freelance gigs as a marketing consultant. After a year, people started asking me to coach them; a year later I was making a full-time living at it.
In my spare time, I play Dungeons and Dragons, read sci-fi novels, play volleyball (well), dance (poorly), and travel every chance I get. In fact, I spent most of 2016 traveling solo around the world. Here I am riding donkeys at Praya Branca, Brazil:
Now my goal is to help a million people build the body they’ve always wanted, live to be over a hundred years old, and take sexier gym selfies. I hope you’ll be one of those people.
To get you started on your journey, I’ve written several guides to help you on the next step of your fitness journey:
Twelve Simple Fat Loss Workouts, my collection of fat loss workouts for people of any skill level, whether they’re in the gym, at home, or on the road.
The Booty Bible, my comprehensive guide to building a strong, luscious pair of gluts that will make Jennifer Lopez seethe with envy.
The Habit Change Cheat Sheet, my two-page guide to changing any habit.
To get all three of them, enter your email address in the form below and I’ll send all three of them straight to your inbox. Then keep an eye out–because over the next few days, I’ll be telling you more about who I am and how I got here, and then I’ll explain how to avoid the three biggest mistakes experienced trainees almost always make.