Aug 2012 21
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 “What gets measured, gets managed.”Peter Drucker

“The things that get measured are the things that get done.”Michael LeBouef

“You become what you measure.”Anonymous

“The quality of a man’s life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen filed of endeavor.”Vince Lombardi

The Definition of Shotgun Training & Dieting in application to muscle building:

The practice of firing out a lot of shells i.e. trying out random fitness tips, and hoping that any of them work!

An example of the shotgun approach would be pumping up the protein, buying a cupboard full of supplements, shoveling down the calories and adding a truckload of intensity techniques to your workouts – all at the same time!

Shotguns blast over an area with the hope of a critical hit. The word shotgun is actually defined as “covering a wide range in a haphazard or ineffective manner”.

While conducting fitness assessments with skinny guys, here is a conversation between myself and an individual using shotgun training and dieting. “How many calories are you eating each day?” Skinny guy says, “A lot.”

“Where’s your body fat?” Skinny guy says, “I’m guessing around 8-11%….”

“What’s your training split look like?”  Skinny guys says, “I switch it up every week…. you know, keep the body guessing…”

“How many meals do you consume a day?” Skinny guy says, “Sometimes 2… sometimes 4… I’m pretty busy…”

“How consistent are you to your current meal plans (assuming they are following one)?” Skinny guy says, “Not sure….”

“How many sets and reps can you do for this exercise and this tempo and rest period?” Skinny guys says, “I just train hard…”

Each of these responses are examples of, “Nothing getting measured so nothing is getting managed.”

This approach is as silly as trying to save money without checking your bank statements.

Sadly, this approach is more common than not. The shotgun approach will die hard because it requires less thought and, well, it’s easier. And lets be honest, at first, it works! Strength and muscle gains kick in for a few weeks — maybe even a few months for the novice bodybuilder – and building muscle appears as simplified as the 16-year kids on the bodybuilding forums boasted, “Eat… sleep… train bro!” And for a few lucky individuals, it is that simple. But this is the exception, not the rule.

I whole-hardheartedly believe, the short term gain of shotgun training could cost you heavily in the long run.


1.  You become lazy. Imagine telling a bodybuilder he needs to start tracking calories and macros after he made his first dramatic transformation doing none of that complicated stuff in the beginning. Fat chance.

2. Your shotgun shells might hit something. Not tracking anything is like playing the lottery. Truth is, you might win. Key word: Might. But the hope of might is strong enough to ignore the fact that measuring and managing the details is the most reliable and predictable way to progress for the long-term.

3. You become a sucker for the latest tricks and trends. Bodybuilders who don’t track anything are always on the lookout for the next “magic pill” and “cutting-edge method” because that is more exciting than the tried and true  principles of slow dieting or slow bulking, incremental progress and consistency.

4.Costs you hundreds of hours of firing off shotgun shells. And time equals money so you’re also draining your bank account in the process. Fun.

5. You put a ceiling on how much muscle you can build. Without quantifying where you are, how do you know much more room you still have to improve on?

With all that said, the shotgun approach is NOT for everyone…

Before I propose a concept coined “riffle bullets” as a solution to shotgun shells, I want to state for the record that riffle bullets are not appropriate for everyone.  Here are a few examples:

1) You’re not truly dedicated to outcome-based training.

2) You don’t have a specific deadline you must be ready for.

After being a fitness consultant for six years, I conducted over a thousand individual fitness consultations on new members that committed to 12-month gym memberships. I asked every member, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you to your goals?” 9 out of 10 times the new member would say, “8 or 9.”

Very few people are 100% committed to their goals and for these people, the shotgun approach might be appropriate. Just don’t start crying when you are not happy with your progress in 12-months. Why are you surprised? You’re only committed to your goals 8 or 9 out of 10!

The Definition of “Rifle Bullet” Training & Dieting

A better approach to muscle is to use rifle bullets, not shotgun shells. Rifle bullets allow you to accomplish the three T’s -Target, Test, Track! 

Here’s the 3-step process to using rifle bullets:

Step 1: Target — Determine what are of your training or diet you wish to target.  Let’s say you want to master a fundamental nutrition principle – protein intake.

Step 2: Test — Instead of eating “a lot” of protein each day you’re going to self-experiment with 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day.  A 175-pound individual would aim for 175 grams of protein each day.

Step 3: Track — The key to tracking is to  fix all other variables. Commit to 7-days of eating 175-grams of protein each day. Execute like a gun is to your head. Keep a journal to track how you feel, look and perform. What happened after 7-days? Is your energy higher? Did you sleep better? Did you recover faster? Were you less sore? Your bodies feedback will give you valuable data. Some self-experiments can be tracked in 7-days, some might take 7-weeks. This is the step that determines whether you achieve an average or astonishing physique. Most people will skip this step and miss out on fulfilling their full potential.

Rifle bullets result in a few major benefits:

1. You take control of the training process. No more hoping that trick A or B might work.

2. You gain accurate intelligence on how your body responds to certain variables. No more wasting time reading hundreds of articles.

3. You can make weekly progress. Yes, weekly progress, because everything is now scalable!

4. You learning by doing, not by reading or debating about it.


A smart muscle building program will be a collection of rifle bullets. A bad muscle building program will fire off shotgun shells and hit nothing.  Which one makes more sense to you?  Where have you been guilty with shotgun training and dieting? Where do you want to shoot some riffle bullets with your training and dieting?

75 comments and I’ll upload Mistake #3.





  1. Robertino Hällgren says:

    Great stuff Vince, I have read a lot and of course sometimes things are conflicting. Great way to find out what really works for you:-)
    Good feeling to be in control as well

  2. Ash says:

    good stuff. i appreciate how you cater for a large group of people in this article. i dont know why you get the hate you do on youtube etc. oh well, better for me i guess :)

  3. Corbin says:

    How frequently do you personally reccommend switching workouts? I’ve been switching between the 6-12-25 workout, and a Pyramid training system, and doing them one month to each one. Thanks for the great article!

    • Vince says:

      That’s optimal. Advanced trainees adapt faster to programs than beginners. New plans every 3-4 weeks is what Hypertrophy MAX and Maximize your Muscle is based around.

  4. Hi Vince,

    This is the first time I’ve visited your site and I have to say I’m very impressed. I really liked this article as it hit on many of the stupid shit that I used to do. My sister’s wedding is coming up on Aug 10 2013 and I want to get into shape for it. Thanks for setting out some great tips – let’s see how it goes!
    Thanks man,

  5. Eric E says:

    Thanks for a great article.

  6. Thomas says:

    Ive already put this to use. Im ready for some GAINS

  7. bernie says:

    Somehow the beginning of the articles brings some deja vu to me…

    good point though. measuring is a point. knowing what you measure is another point. doing too many things at the same time is definitely a big mistake since you can’t move forward without knowing what works and what’s rubbish. it definitely slows you down and you accumulate those wrong nasty habits

  8. Sai Zaw Htun Aung says:

    nice again,Vince! Thankz for the rifle mindset. learn by doing, good!

  9. bzar says:

    beleza, gostei dessa!

  10. Miha says:

    Hi Vince! How much protein do you recommend from meat? Is 50% enough for skinny guy?

  11. Luke says:

    whats a good way to set realistic goals? i want to put on 15 more pounds of muscle…but its hard to have a deadline for that because i’ve never gone to that weight before, you know what i mean? also how do you know when you’ve hit your ceiling

  12. Andrew says:

    Ok I confess: I’m guilty as charged. On the big goal as well as on the little steps needed to get there.
    Vince, you seem to have an amazing capacity to hit the target with your comments, this post had me feeling nauseous at my lack of focus – and real targeted committment. Thanks again.

  13. Lar1Man says:

    Great stuff !!
    Tracking food intake can be made easier by using fit use the free section of the site. But above all, it doesn’t matter how many tools you have at your fingertips if you never take them out of the toolbox!! Commit and stay the course.

  14. Andrew says:

    Dude! This was one of the most insightful articles I have read in awhile. Words like “a lot” “a few” “a long time” make their way into my workout dialogues often (there’s another one-”often”). Unless you finally decide to gather data and measure stuff exactly with regard to variables and environment, then how can we expect predictable results? Can you imagine a carefully designed chemical formula whose primary reagent calls for “quite a bit”? Why would we think successfully building a body would have more room for error and guessing? Thanks for the reminder to put me back on track!

  15. Chase Hymas says:

    awesome info i love the three t’s! thanks a lot!

  16. Sam says:

    That’s it!

  17. Bogdan says:

    About 2 years ago, i was a shotgun training practitioner, the only thing i did were body measurements. I ate 5-6 meals a day, but didnt count calories. Didnt had a training/eating journal, nothing. After i read your book i started a journal, not very organized at first but until now it evolved; i bought a kitchen scale, started measuring and to be honest i was shocked when i saw the amount of calories that i consumed. Only 1800kcal, and i thought i was eating enough. My requirements were 2800-3000kcal to be in a caloric surplus. Started tracking my sets/reps/kg, so that the future week i would know what i had to beat.

  18. Simon says:

    This is all great advice !
    BUT there is a thing not many people talk about, and that is : Where do you go to find out how much calories you take inn every day?

    Do you read off the packing of the food you eat and then calculate how many calories you take in, and then put everything together at the end of the day?

    Or do you have a web-site where you find the information of how much calories, protein and fat there is in the different things you eat ?

    I’d love to know, because the nutrition side is where I struggle. Do any one of you have a tips for how to calculate all these things more easily ?

    Thank you!

  19. chris says:

    Thanks for the tip… but not a big fan of shotgun training. Keep up the good work. Ur tips help out a lot.

  20. Tim says:

    The best insight is commitment. I just don’t have it. Whant I’m measuring, my exercise and weight isn’t being managed. My consistency is terrible. At the end of the day the diet has me ready to hurt someone. I’m still looking for what works.

  21. Rick says:

    Thanks for the tips Vince!

  22. Travis says:

    I am completely guilty of this. Although, mistake number 1 was my number 1 problem. Thanks for the motivation.

  23. Erkan says:

    im guilty of the shotgun training style..really woke me up there Vinny..going to start SNIPING with 40 cals now baby!!

  24. Benjamin says:

    Have you ever listed what I an ideal amount of carbs per day are for gaining lean muscle mass?

  25. Michael Ramey says:

    It’s hard for beginners to figure out the first things to track. Every written program gives guidelines so that readers can set up their customized program. Since they are doing it for the first time, their customized program sucks; they get discouraged and revert to previous behaviors.

  26. Howard says:

    More food for thought. I agree that 8-9 is still good. I try to do it all, which of course, I can’t really achieve. But I press on and try. So for the 1-2 I am not focused on the workout, I am out doing something else that goes to a balanced life.

  27. Simon says:

    Cant wait for #3, great advice.

  28. Robert SWE says:

    I recognize that mistake. But if you are new in the gym you might need some weeks to figure out what’s best for you. But then you should stick to it for a while so you can see if there is any progress.
    Great Vince!

  29. joseph says:

    Vince I’m also a guy who used methods but war tank, because if it does not work the rifle I will use the war tank .XD XD GREAT JOB.

  30. christian says:

    Good advice. I will look at this in a different way and focus on my goal.

  31. Eli Adamenko says:

    It’s hard to commit 10/10 when muscle building is not the only thing you do.
    We all have work (well, most of us) and some of us also go to college so we have to focus on a lot of things all together.
    In my opinion, individuals who commit 8-9 out of 10 are still great because I’m sure they have other things going on in their lives.
    I’m not saying you have no life, Vince, but this is what you do, this is your job – so for you it’s easier to give 100% to building muscle which is awesome, I wish I could.

  32. stevieneeson says:

    Great advice vinny id also say its very important to keep a training journal,i write all my workouts out religously and find its v important to to check back and c how im progressing.

  33. jason says:

    great info. last year was my first time trying a bulking phase and i was definitely guilty of shotgunning it. this year, i bough a scale and weigh out everything. im determined to do it right this time around!

  34. Nattha says:

    I still have a hard time with the measurement part. I need to get a caliper because my Tanita scale still reads 22% for the past 4 months (but a few months back I got a hold of a BIA measurement and it read 18.6% !!!). That’s when I stopped using the scale. The girth measurements haven’t changed either. The interesting part is that my abs is more cut now than it was 2 months ago.

  35. argely says:

    dammm i am a shot gun trainer i wieght 230 pounds i dont know what i eat i dont keep track of anything
    dammit so how do i know how much grams of protien are in my food is there a list

    • Nattha says:

      you can search for it on
      An easy guideline is that 4 oz of meat or 5 oz of fish usually have about 25 – 30 g of protein. Get yourself a $10 scale to see how much that is like. It’s about the size of the palm of your hands not including fingers. For fish, the size of a chequebook.

      3 eggs is 30g of protein
      6 egg whites is 28 – 30g of protein (8 – 9 oz volume total)

  36. Barry says:

    So true Vince! After 6 months of shot gun training I have experienced a level of success, but to get to that next level I’m gonna have to laser sight in on some variables and make some changes! Great article!

  37. J Power says:

    Guilty. While the commitment is strong, accounting for exact amounts of certain intakes (i.e., protein, etc.) is the stumbling block.

  38. David says:

    Please focus on spelling. :-) I think you mean Rifle and not Riffle.

  39. Shaun says:

    Funny thing is, being a skinny guy, this is something that I have just started instituting within the last week and actually watching my protein intake through a free app for my phone. Works wonders to be able to track it when your phone is right in front of your face all the time.

  40. Juan says:

    I’ve been one of those shotgun guys. And it worked for a while, but I’m commited to change my ways for sure since I’m on Hypertrophy Max. The good news are that I know now how to measure and how to control my calories and macros.

    I’m excited, and if I made some progress till now, wait to see where I’m gonna end!

  41. Barney Vincelette says:

    Sometimes, if a new supplement is cheap to try or even a free sample, you can use the tape measure and scale to tell whether the pre-work-out with synophrene or caffeine made no difference after a couple of weeks.

  42. Scott says:

    Sharp shooter.

  43. Brandon says:

    Gold Vince…and VERY true! Can’t wait for #3.

  44. Alex Siddy says:

    Very important stuff covered here! Guys put that shotgun away and take aim with the rifle. Target, test, track. These 3 T’s are vital to achieving the best results.

    Nice one Vince, keep the gold nuggets coming.

  45. Russell says:

    Awesome! I have to admit, I’ve used shotgun shells quite a bit; it’s only been lately that I’ve started bringing the rifle bullets out (I’m assuming you meant ‘rifle bullets’ instead of ‘riffle bullets). Since then, I’ve been making gains towards my goal like crazy!
    Great article!

  46. Edrrich Krynauw says:

    Very good article!! Very good indeed!

  47. Anthony says:

    Great stuff Vince. So many guys are just winging everything and I don’t see them change ever!

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