The “Magic List” by John Christy

I’m a big fan of the late John Christy’s work. Basic progression, big exercises, avoid injury, think long term…these were his basic tenets. He wrote a LOT of stuff over the years and you can still buy his book “Real Strength, Real Muscle” for the in-depth version of what I’m about to post. Is the list perfect? No, but it is directionally accurate. If you ever find yourself losing focus and getting too caught up in “conjugated mumbo jumbo” from genetically elite trainees who grow walking through a gym, read this, reorganize, and get back to what matters.

John’s Christy’s Magic List

Weight train 2 to 3 times per week

1. A no-brainer for real trainees that don’t take steroids.

2. Allows for complete recovery, which means you get bigger and stronger from every workout.

3. Joints can recover – no injuries – consistent training – great results.

Train hard but make sure the ‘hard training’ is put towards progression; lifting more weight

1. Training hard pushes the body to adapt to a new level of development or performance.
2. If that ‘new level’ is more muscle or more strength then it must be pushed with more weight.

Eat enough to gain muscle

1. It takes a lot of effort to eat enough to gain, which is one main reason, most trainees’ fail – they won’t work at it.

2. Eat 1000 more calories per day than you eat now and you will gain muscle (as long as the training is stimulating).


Do aerobic work to get in shape, which is good for your health but also promotes recovery from workouts

1. Promotes recovery from weight workouts.

2. Better recovery = bigger and stronger muscles.

3. This can make the difference between gaining 25 pounds on your bench this year or a measly 10 (or a big fat zero – which is what most gain).

Stretch to keep / get your joints healthy so that you don’t miss workouts or have to eliminate productive exercises

1. Healthy joints = consistent workouts = bigger, stronger muscles.

2. Healthy joints = ability to perform more productive exercises = bigger, stronger muscles.

Get yourself fired-up to train with goals, pictures, entering contests, etc

1. Promotes putting out maximum effort allowing you to lift heavier weights, which produces bigger, stronger muscles.

I know it’s hard to believe that such simple ‘non-sexy’ methods can produce stunning results. But they do. I’ve seen it, and helped make it happen in many cases. And as a matter of fact I’ve never seen a ‘sexy’ (flashy, secret, underground, new-wave, instant, etc) method produce anything except a fat wallet for the seller of such garbage.

Do all the basics outlined above – not just one or two of them – and people will line-up to buy your magic pill.

The Truth About Exercise Revisited

I’m a minimalist when it comes to exercise. A really small, really intense dose is all that is needed for the vast majority of people to manifest all of the health benefits that exercise can provide. This does not mean that you can then get away with bed rest in the face of this concentrated dose of exercise, I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that if a person is living a fairly “normal” life with a decent amount of non-exercise physical activity built into their day, not a lot of “exercise” is needed above that to maximize health markers.

My friends Melissa and Dallas Hartwig are found of saying, “Food should make you healthier.” I don’t think I’m the first to say this but it seems so obvious: Exercise should make you healthier! Even though water is vital for life, too much of it will causes hyponatremia, which is a way of illustrating that too much of anything is a bad idea. As far as exercise goes, the diagnostic component of how much exercise any one person needs, and how they will respond, has been a Soviet pipe dream.

But it is coming.

This lecture outlines the failings of public health exercise recommendations in light of the scientific evidence and shows that there is currently have a highly accurate genetic test to determine if you will experience VO2max improvements from training. I find it all fascinating and hope you do too.