By Iron Vic Steele

Hopefully you can help.  I play club rugby.  My problem is I am 5-5 and weigh 145.  I am fast and agile but I need some muscle and power, not only to perform better as a rugby player, but these guys are beating the hell out of me.  I need to be better able to withstand the bashing I am getting.  I lift weights and run a lot and I am built like a gymnast – lean, with a muscled-up torso and thin legs.  Adding 10 or 15 pounds (assuming it is all muscle) would really help. It would make me a better rugby player and help me to better absorb the hits I am taking.  Maybe I could actually give a few hits for a change! That would be fantastic as paybacks are hell and there are a few players I would love to inflict some pain on.  I can’t lose my quickness, speed and agility in the process – that’s what makes me good.  Is this possible, to add-10-15 pounds of mass over like say six months – and not degrade my speed or agile-ness? 

                                Ronnie, Glenmont

The reason why all pro teams in every major sport have strength and conditioning programs are because when handled right, strength training not only creates lean muscle mass, strength training actually enhances, not degrades, speed and agility. Anyone can add bodyweight by shoveling in calories – but creating new muscle (without adding an unacceptable amount of body fat in the process) requires discipline, a good game plan and precision.  Nutrition is the key.  As an athlete, you are lean and light and have good cardio. You are super fast and fit. This is a great start.  Based on your short letter, I would suggest you institute a leg specialization program.  For maximum results in the shortest possible timeframe, combine intense leg training with a full-blown Parrillo nutritional regimen.  Here is a basic leg specialization program that works every single time it is fully instituted…

Day 1

squat, leg curl, calf raises

Rest two days, then…

Day 2

leg press, hack squat, seated leg curls, seated calf raise

Work the hell out of your legs twice a week.  I would not do anything other than legs on these days. Take two other training days to hit chest, back, shoulders and arms.  Two days a week you concentrate on legs and legs alone.  As far as sets and reps, I would concentrate on 5-rep sets in the squat.  You have to squat deep in order to derive maximum benefit: I would rather see a trainee squat super deep with 185 than perform shallow squats with 405.  Leg curls need be in the 10-rep range; I favor 8-rep sets in the leg press and hack squat.  Each week drive the training poundage up!

I would suggest you look to add 10-12-pounds of bodyweight over a 12-week timeframe. Add more than a pound a week and risk adding too much body fat; it is hard to track weight gains of less than a pound a week.  You have to eat: you might think you are eating, but you are not!  In order to pull this off you will need to pair up the intense leg training with a classical, 6-meal per day, Parrillo high-calorie/high protein nutritional game plan. I would suggest eating three food meals three times a day and then creating three “supplement meals” to augment the three food meals.  Check this out…

Meal 1: awake (pre-cardio)

Parrillo Optimized Whey™ shake, Liver Amino™

Meal 2: after cardio

eggs, oatmeal with CapTri®

Meal 3: mid-morning

Parrillo Protein bar™, Parrillo muffin (or two)

Meal 4: lunch

chicken, salad, rice w/CapTri®

Meal 5: mid-afternoon

Parrillo pudding, Parrillo Soft Chew bar™

Meal 6: dinner

salmon, green beans, potatoes w/CapTri®

Meal 7: before bed

Hi-Protein™ shake, Liver Amino™, GH Formula™

This kind of eating needs to be done seven days a week for 10-12-straight weeks.  Each week increase the calories just enough to move the scale up a pound. No more! No less!  During this process CapTri® and Parrillo protein products are used to spike the clean calories and dramatically increase the amount of muscle-building protein you are consuming. Make sure to continue (if not increase!) your cardio during this process. Too many athletes make the mistake of cutting back or eliminating aerobic activity under the mistaken belief that less cardio is better while adding size: aerobics keep weight gains lean and all muscle. Do more, not less cardio during a “mass-building” phase.  Combine a serious leg specialization program with a serious Parrillo nutritional game plan, augment with potent Parrillo supplements and at the end of 12-weeks you will actualize the results you seek. Then go and wreak havoc – and get some revenge!

Mr. Steele, 

IronVic2I want to learn how to fight.  I am a high school senior and tired of being alternately ignored or bullied. I am 6 foot tall and weigh 150 and need to learn how to defend myself. There are a lot of different schools of martial arts – what would you recommend? I am not looking to start trouble, but would like to be more confident when I am being intimidated. 

Louis, Pasadena

There is nothing wrong with wanting to know how to defend your self.  At your age, and given that you don’t have a lot of athletic background, I would suggest you combine jujitsu with weight training.  I notice that you don’t mention anything about lifting or weights or athletics, so I assume you don’t lift much and aren’t all that athletic.  Weight training is going to help pack muscle onto your skinny body, adding 20 to 25 pounds of muscle is going to powerize you and discourage a lot of predators.  I love boxing, wrestling, Sambo and all the striking arts – however if forced to choose one, it would be jujitsu. Jujutsu is excellent because it is primarily a defensive martial art in that the idea is whatever punch or kick is thrown your direction there is a jujitsu countermove.  When a predator aggressively strikes out at you, you clamp a submission hold on him. If you happen to have an excellent martial arts school in your neighborhood, regardless the style, feel free to go with what is close and convenient.  If I had access to a wide selection of martial arts, I would start with jujitsu.  Add some muscle, become proficient with a martial art and you will gain so much self-confidence (and muscle mass) that 90% of the bullies will morph from intimidating into intimidated.

Hello Mr. Steele, 

Why is it that the Parrillo approach towards diet and training are so hard and harsh? And dare I say why are YOU so harsh?  Did you have a sad childhood? Have you ever thought that if you were nicer and friendlier, that perhaps you would better be able to communicate your message? I have no doubt that your methods work – however couldn’t you compromise a bit and be less severe (perhaps modify the Parrillo approach to make it initially easier for non-bodybuilders to perform? And perhaps you yourself could be little less severe – remember this, you draw more flies with sugar than vinegar!  Just some helpful clues – btw, I am a professional life coach and I am a trained professional at this sort of thing. 

Denise, Martha’s Vineyard

Oh God, kill me now!  How did you possibly come across me or Parrillo, given the social circles you hang out in?  At Parrillo Performance we are all about results – not niceness or improving our interpersonal relationship skills; we seek to build real muscle and dissolve real body fat. The sad fact is, the human body does not build muscle or shed body fat in response to mild exercise and fun fitness.  I am quite sure you have a lot of fun when you train; likely it is enjoyable and there is little if any real exertion involved and you are probably not doing a whole lot of sweating.   You no doubt eat “lite” and “low-cal” and have resorted to plastic surgery and wear Spanx to help smooth out those unsightly bulges.   What we do is different: we train really hard and get really sweaty and really do make real progress.  If we dilute the Parrillo methods the real results fly away…they disappear.

Parrillo-lite would be ever so much fun, but by taking out the exertion and the sweat we also eviscerate the guts out of the method and render it worthless.  It’s the effort and the sweat that force the body to create new muscle and forces the body to burn off fat.  In your world, you make the mistake of believing those that tell you, “Hey Denise, I have a method of fitness that is fantastic, fun and exertion free – it works wonders!” No doubt you and your Real Housewives of Martha’s Vineyard have a barrel of fun at cardio boot-camp pump-and-sculpt step-aerobic grooving to the oldies class. Feel-good fun fitness is, from a muscle-building/fat burning perspective, about as effective as bowling or playing golf.

If you were perceptive and engaged, you would note that all those “regular folks” that participate in “user-friendly” fitness never, ever change – no one, not the instructors that teach this drivel, not the faithful fitness clients that fork over money, no one ever physically changes or improves.  Oh sure they might drop some body weight when they first start; any lame training and diet regimen suddenly done by the untrained or out-of-shape person will get great results – initially.  But once that untrained body gets past that first little burst of progress, all progress ceases and desists and never ever returns. The Parrillo approach is uncompromising because if we lessen or loosen the precepts of the philosophy, the effectiveness disappears.  I am mystified that you are a reader; I wonder where, in your travels, you came across me and read me to the point where you have an opinion on me. Your knowledge of me is mysterious.    I am kryptonite – or perhaps Lex Luther – to feel-good personal trainers worldwide.  Are you going to send me a bill for your Life Coach expertise and services?


What do you think about a “supplement stack” of creatine monohydrate and the Parrillo branch-chain supplement, Muscle Amino Formula? I am looking for a little edge leading up to a (don’t laugh!) fashion show.  I am a male model that actually books runway shows. Six months ago I had a skiing accident and blew out some knee ligaments.  I lost a lot of muscle. I have a runway show booked in six weeks and need to look more like what I did when my photographs were taken. I could stand to gain around ten pounds of muscle.  My leanness is good – but currently I am scrawny and need to buff up a bit.  I had thought that the creatine/branch-chain supplement strategy, in conjunction with some hardcore weight training, would help me add some muscle mass. What do think? 

Arn, NYC

Live the life!  That’s great! Walk proud, Zoolander – or Hansel? Your combo is actually quite clever and likely will be quite effective assuming you kick ass in the weight room.  I will make a lot of assumptions: I assume you are a Parrillo guy following John’s prescriptions regarding lifting, cardio and nutrition. I will also assume that you are in your 20s (not too many old models) and that you are lean but not too lean.  We need clean calories, cardio, hardcore lifting and real dedication.  Look, you need take in enough calories to push your bodyweight up 1.5 pounds per week for six straight weeks: nine pounds of pure muscle will make an incredible difference in your look and take you from drawn and skinny to buff and herculean.  Don’t make the mistake of adding too much weight too quickly as you will add an unacceptable amount of body fat.  Coming off an injury the untrained body can make some sensational gains.  The trick is you can’t baby yourself (or there won’t be any gains) and you can’t go too hard or your untrained body will break.  Split the difference.  Train hard but train smart!  Eat regular and add in the supplements: Creatine Monohydrate™ should be taken throughout the day with heaviest dosing before and after training.  Load up on Muscle Amino Formula™ before, and again immediately after every weight training and cardio session. If you are really serious, use the Parrillo BodyStat kit to monitor results on a weekly basis.