A Ninja Warrior Champion Tried to Gain as Much Muscle as Possible in 30 Days
Ninja Warrior champion Ben Polson is a lean, agile dude. (He does, after all, traverse Spiderman-like obstacle courses for a living.) But in his latest YouTube video, he challenges himself to put on some serious gains in just 30 days. His plan: to gain as much muscle as he can by “lifting weights and eating lots of food.” Simple enough.
To start, Polson gets a DEXA scan to find out where he’s starting from in terms of body composition. He weighs in at 183 pounds, with a body fat percentage of 7.5 percent. Polson explains that he plans to do a 3-day split of push, pull, and legs. Here’s how the phases break down:
Push: This will be only upper-body exercises with ‘pushing’ against resistance. For example, bench press, dips, tricep extensions. (Aiming to hit the chest and triceps.)
Pull: These days are for pulling against resistance, with moves like lat pulldowns, seated rows, and bicep curls. (Aiming to hit the back and biceps.)
Legs: As Polson exclaims, “SQUATS, BABY!”
He starts out the first day with pushing, compound exercises, followed by isolation exercises. Polson sets a plan of 3 sets with 8 to 12 reps of every exercise, which he claims is “the optimal number of reps for each exercise to build muscle size, aka hypertrophy.”
Day 2 involves his pull day, which begins with pull-ups, seated rows, seated flys, hammer curls and bicep curls.
On day 3 (leg day), Polson moves into “unfamiliar territory.” As he puts it, “These drumsticks don’t get a lot of attention: They’re great for Ninja Warrior, but not so much for squatting.” His moves included hip thrusts, seated leg curls, and prone leg curls.
By Day 4, he was experiencing bad DOMS (delayed on-set muscle soreness), and could “barely dress myself,” he says. But by the end of the week, he’s finding his rhythm again.
Regardless of his training, Polson knows that diet plays just a vital role in building muscle and staying in a calorie surplus. But that’s exactly where he messed up, he says: He notes that he didn’t track his macros closely enough, instead doing mostly guess work so he didn’t overwhelm himself and lose motivation in the gym.
So for Week 2, his DOMS reduced and his weight increased to a little over 187 pounds. To up his training, he started to implement super sets and drop sets going into Week 3, where he also upped the weights he was using. There were also other obstacles: On day 22, for instance, he says he had a “bad mental day”—to overcome it, he focused on the following phrase: “Don’t let your feelings dictate your actions. Let your actions dictate your feelings.” And by Week 4, he was back on track.
Summing up the challenge, Polson says one of the most successful strategies for achieving his gains was simply repping to fatigue in the gym, and it paid off in the end. By the end of the 30 days, his weight was up to 189 pounds, and his body fat was still hovering at a lean, mean, and Ninja Warrior-worthy 8 percent.
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