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Squats and Milk, And Then Some

Average: 3.9 (15 votes)
3.9 5 15
A new look at the old squats and milk program. This program was designed for mass, and has been proven effective.

Squats and MilkYou’ve probably heard of the squats and milk program. It's been around for over 50 years, and is a very effective approach to packing on muscle mass.

On squats and milk, you train 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – performing a 20-rep squat set, immediately followed by a light weight set of barbell pullovers. The point of the pullovers is to “stretch” the rib cage.

One of the hidden keys to the success of this program is progression of weight. Squats and milk recommends that you increase the weight you use for your 20-rep squat set by 5 pounds every time you hit the gym. That’s a 60-pound weight jump each month. This is the primary reason why this program works so effectively.

The program also advocates eating as much as possible, as often as possible. And to wash down the food, it’s recommended that you drink a gallon of whole milk (not skim, 1% or 2%) per day.

On the surface, it appears that milk is the driving force behind the weight you will be gaining on this program. In actuality, overall caloric intake is a greater indicator of how successful this program will be for you. Eat more, grow more.

But the whole milk plays a vital role. It adds liquid calories, and lots of them. A gallon of whole milk contains 1,920 calories. This virtually insures that you will be eating a minimum of 4,000 calories per day, which is a great start for hardgainers.

It’s Time For a Change

The squats and milk program has rarely been modernized or updated. I want to do just that, and give you a program that will turn you from skinny and weak, to strong and brawny in no time.

I’ve added in several core, heavy compound exercises, and removed some old school elements such as barbell pullovers. You will be working out three times a week, full body style. I have kept the focus on squats, but dropped their frequency to twice a week in order to make room for deadlifts. Call this blasphemous if you will, but I call it a needed change.

This program is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for those who fear adding on a few extra pounds of fat. It’s time to grow, so let’s go…

The New School Squats and Milk Routine

Monday

Wednesday

Friday

Program Overview and Notes

The new school squats and milk program has a basic structure. On Monday and Friday, you will be performing a 20-rep set of squats, along with a chest, back and shoulder exercise. In addition, on Monday you will be hitting your hamstrings, and on Friday, your calves.

Wednesday has you performing deadlift single reps, ab work, and focusing on arms. You perform slightly fewer sets on this day, so it can be considered a lighter training day.

20-rep squat sets. It may take a while to work up to a 20-rep set. Try improving by at least one rep per workout. When you can hit 20 reps, it’s time to start upping the weight. Add 5 pounds to the bar each time you perform a 20-rep set. This will add 40 pounds to your squat each month.

Deadlifts. Deadlifts are performed as single reps. Pick a weight and perform 5 singles, resting about 30 seconds between reps. Next time you workout, perform 6 reps with the same weight. Keep increasing the number of singles you perform each workout by one, until you hit a total of 10 total singles. After you hit 10 single reps, it’s time to jump up in weight. The next time you deadlift, add 10 pounds to the bar and knock out 5 reps. Continue the pattern of moving up one rep each week.

Bench Press and Rows. When you can perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a given weight, add 5 pounds to the bar the next time around.

General Progression. For exercises in the 6-10 rep range, push for progression of reps, then weight. When you can perform all sets with a minimum of 6 reps per set, move up in weight.

Milk. Drink a minimum of six larges glasses of whole milk per day. If you can stomach one gallon of whole milk per day, then drink it! If you need extra calories, or if milk gives you stomach issues, snack on almonds during the day and purchase a quality weight gainer.

Food. Eat all day long, but make sure you are not stuffed when you workout. After you workout, eat a monster meal. Aim for a minimum of 4,000 calories per day. For some hardgainers, 4,000 will not be enough. If this is the case for you, add 500 calories per day each week, until the scale starts moving.

Fat gain. Don’t fear fat gain. During bulks, a good portion of the weight gain is muscle. If you gain 25 pounds, and 15 pounds of that is muscle, rejoice! You only have 10 pounds of fat to cut, and that can be done in no time. Muscle gains last a lifetime, fat gains are quickly lost.

A squats and milk program is an awesome way to pack on weight, muscle and strength in a short amount of time. Whether you need to bulk up for the football team, or you’re tired of spinning your wheels in the weight room, this program is a must try.

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    Average: 3.9 (15 votes)
  • About The Author
    Steve is a powerlifter who has also spent 20 years training in bodybuilding. He is a national level competitor training for an all-time over 50 raw world record.
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Comments (70)

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jared
Posted Fri, 12/18/2009 - 05:20

Hey steve how long would you recommend doing Squats and Milk? I'm gonna start this after my current workout. So around mid january. Thanks! And i'm really pumped to try the program!

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Steve
Posted Fri, 12/18/2009 - 07:46

I would try it for at least a couple nmonths to see how you like it.

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dannyboi
Posted Sat, 01/09/2010 - 04:13

Hi steve...i just started on this..to tell you the truth, i didnt feel the effects as i expected to...i started off with 240 pounds on the deadlift and did all 10 reps with less than 30 secs rest...on the squats, i started real light, though i felt the burn all over my body after around the 14th rep, i didnt feel that tired after i finished the squats...I thought il hardly be able to move after the squats and the deadlifts...is there something im doing wrong...and moreover, during the deadlifts i feel like the lower back is utilised to lift the weight more than the legs...i have the right technique i believe, until, i pull the weight up..the moment the weight is lifted, i believe i straighten up, which in turn transfers the weight to the lower back..its the same with light weights too...

Food..im in the philippines and here the meal portions are very small and expensive...im struggling to get my calories...i cant cook and eat since im in a dormitory...so how and what would you suggest for me to get the calories that i need !!

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Steve
Posted Sat, 01/09/2010 - 08:49

Danny,

This program could be quite easy at the start. The key is yo keep adding weight. The progression structure is included in the workout. If you follow this progression pattern out for 4-6 months, the workouts will become difficult very quickly.

If your workout is easy, it's because the weights are too easy. Start adding weight.

Regarding food...you need to find an inexpensive, healthy, calorie dense food source. It's hard for me to say just what that is locally. Nuts, beans, quinoa, rice...

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dannyboi
Posted Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:20

What about the deadlift technique...its about 6 hours since my workout and my lower back is really sore...look at this guys technique http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymyV6vP5NNU..is it right ??..mine is very similar to this technique...

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Steve
Posted Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:23

BTW, deadlifts are generally not a leg exercise. They are more of a back exercise.

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Steve
Posted Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:29

Your lower back might be getting sore. Odds are your form needs some corrections. It would help if you could somehow post a video. generally, young lifters don't keep their arms straight when they start to pull, and they tend to raise their hips first.

Deadlifts aren't an easy exercise, but they are effective. Stick with them. Your back will get stronger.

Here's a video to help:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-O_MT72rck

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Brian
Posted Sat, 01/30/2010 - 23:55

Hi Steve,

Just wondering how I could incorporate the above program into a 2 day per week schedule - Sun and Thurs. Should I rotate through the 3 workouts or just do Sun - squats and Thurs - Deadlifts?

Thanks for your help
Brian

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Steve
Posted Sun, 01/31/2010 - 08:38

Hi Brian,

I would do the following routine and add in 20 rep squats:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/2-day-simple-ab-split-by-steve...

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Steve
Posted Sun, 01/31/2010 - 09:06

Someone was concerned about saturated fats and drinking a lot of milk. They believed it would lead to a heart attack. First, this is a short term weight gaining program...no one is going to have a heart attack from drinking milk for 3 months. Second, The tie between saturated fats and heart attacks and heart disease is highly overblown. In fact, many studies reveal that it's not saturated fats at all.

I think the true health threat is a high carb diet. I suggest reading the book, Good Calories, Bad Calories for a more detailed look at the issue.

References:

1. Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2009; 55 (1-3).

2. Siri-Tarino PW, et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease Am J Clin Nutr 13 January 2010 [epub ahead of print].

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Simon
Posted Sun, 02/14/2010 - 05:38

Just to confirm the 20 reps is 1 set of 20 reps right.
Why 1 set instead of 3 sets(6,8,10) with a much heavier weight?

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Simon
Posted Sun, 02/14/2010 - 05:44

I cant do Close geip bench press(my elbows click) what would be an alternative?

Also could you explain "Singles" is it your 1 rep max for 10 or less?

Thanks in advance.

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Steve
Posted Sun, 02/14/2010 - 08:50

Simon...The "why" behind a 20 rep set of squats can only be experienced by doing them. They are brutally intense. Regarding close grip bench press, if there is no pain continue to do them. For singles you do one rep, release your grip, wait until you feel ready, and do another single rep.

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Jim
Posted Tue, 03/02/2010 - 23:24

Why isn't there an exercise for the upper chest? I'm just curious, but if the main chest exercise is the flat bench press then won't my pecs look a little funny and disproportionate? Or will the flat bench press increase my overall chest muscle mass??

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Steve
Posted Wed, 03/03/2010 - 07:57

Jim...The combination of bench press and dips will be sufficient at hitting the pecs. If you are concerned about upper pecs, switch out an incline movement for dips.

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Yusuf
Posted Sat, 03/06/2010 - 10:14

would doing a 45 minute session of speed training twice a week be counter productive towards the gains made by this workout? I have gone two months into this workout and have seen great results.

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Steve
Posted Sat, 03/06/2010 - 16:20

Yusuf..are we talking speed training as in "speed bench press" or "speed box squats", or cardio exercise? Cardio is fine as long as your eating and resting and you're legs feel good enough to do it.

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Yusuf
Posted Sat, 03/06/2010 - 21:06

I was referring to speed training in terms of cardio. Would doing the cardio on the same day as the weight training be a good idea too? or should I stick to doing cardio only on my off days?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 03/07/2010 - 07:07

Yusuf...It's not a bad idea either way. You could try it and see how your body handles it.

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Daniel
Posted Thu, 03/11/2010 - 02:21

Hey Steve, if Deadlifts hit the back most why don't you recommend doing Squats and Deadlifts on the same day?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 03/11/2010 - 08:43

Daniel...because they can both heavily tax your central nervous system, and it's generally better to train them on separate days because of this. Also, because of their effectiveness, it's good to be as fresh as possible when performing them.

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Daniel
Posted Thu, 03/18/2010 - 04:27

Hey Steve, what are some ways to bust through plateau's? I like to stick to barbell lifting instead of DB's because I can lift more weight with them and usually can add more muscle with BB lifting, so I don't really want to change many exercises in my routine. Deadlifts, squats, BB bench press, BB overhead press and chin ups are the staples to my muscle building routine so what are some good ways to change it up and get through a plateau without changing exercises? Change rep ranges, exercise order etc? Btw i'm using the 5x5 routine atm. Thanks in advance! :)

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Steve
Posted Thu, 03/18/2010 - 08:50

Daniel...sometimes plateaus are simply periods where your body - tendons, cns, whatever - just require some adjustment time before they're ready to allow you to handle more weight. And occasionally our body hits a "down time" were we have 2 to 3 week periods of weakness or fatigue.

When I hit a sluggish stage of training, I do something completely different with the same exercise. Say I was ding 5x5 for bench press and hit a wall. I would spend the next week eating more than normal, and would maybe do a 10x10 or 8x8 with a lighter weight and shorter rest period.

If you feel sluggish at all, this could be over-training. The best thing to do in that case is to back off the weight by 40% for a week, do the same amount of reps, and have an "active rest."

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Daniel
Posted Sun, 03/21/2010 - 05:48

Thanks Steve :)
So if I hit a wall on my 5x5 bench press, or any of the other exercises i'm doing, and I decide to drop the weight down a couple of stages and work my way back up.. say 80kg 5x5 down to 67.5kg / 70kg for 3x8 or 3x10 will I be able to put on size since i'm doing a lower weight but in a different rep range? I'm hoping I can still put on size and strength if I lower the weight and jack up the reps but still stay in a hypertrophy rep range. I'm afraid that if I lower the weight a bit to do a higher rep range (but still get to near failure by the 8th, 9th or 10th rep) i won't be able to put on size since i'm not lifting as heavy as i was on the 5x5 routine.. or will i still be able to?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 03/21/2010 - 08:22

Daniel...yes, those rep ranges are still great for hypertrophy.

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Gilberto
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 02:16

guys the 20 reps is like this

do a weight that allows you to do 10 reps to failure. but instead of putting the weight back...pump out another 10 reps, even if you have to pause and breath.JUST DON'T PUT THE WEIGHT DOWN UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE 20 REPS.

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 08:10

You have to breathe and rest with the weight on your back until you are able to perform another rep.

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Rafael G. Toledo
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 19:32

Greetings from the Philippines! I'm 44 years old if I follow the Squats and Milk Program will i gained weight? Thanks.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 07/27/2010 - 14:08

Hi Rafael,

You should gain weight using this program.

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Daniel
Posted Sun, 08/01/2010 - 00:39

Hey Steve,

I'm seriously going to do this program. I'm 5'10, 127 lbs, and today I ate around 3,650 calories. I know I should probably do more, but how many would you suggest I intake on a daily basis, and what kind of gains should I expect to see weight-wise with this program?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 08/01/2010 - 14:04

Hi Daniel,

Right now you are underweight. I might suggest 3600 to 4000 per day. At minimum you want to gain a pound per week right now. It might help you to try the GOMAD - gallon of whole milk a day. You eat 3 normal meals, and drink a gallon of milk each day.

beginners can gain around 15 pounds of muscle during their first year of training hard. You might be able to gain more because of your current weight. I would like to see you hit 167 over the next year.

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Daniel
Posted Sun, 08/01/2010 - 19:09

Thanks Steve, I'm upping my calories now. I've been underweight for ages, and though I've been able to do 300lb leg presses, and 400lb leg presses, those things aren't really what's important to me now, even though it is important. I'm going to work on my diet and move this forward. Really, this page has been the most helpful so far for a person like me to feel hope! Thanks!
Daniel

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Steve
Posted Sun, 08/01/2010 - 19:34

Best of luck Daniel!

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Ross Sonnier
Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 12:47

Steve:
Just wanted to say that I really enjoy your articles, man. I've been bodybuilding for almost 10 years now and I've learned a lot during that time period with research and experience. Articles like this one always throw a new twist onto what I know and you've always got something new to share. I appreciate it and I'm sure everyone else here does too. Myself, for instance, am a typical hardgainer coming up from 5'11" at around 120-130 lbs to over 200 lbs. Excess calories are a must for me and often difficult to put down so I incorporate things like raisins, trail mix, corn, peas, shakes, and other calorie dense foods to help me push the limits and tip the scales. Never really considered drinking a gallon of milk a day though. Like I said, you always put a new twist on things. I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles. Keep it up.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 13:41

Thanks for the kind words Ross. I really appreciate it.

And if there's one thing I've mastered, it's eating!

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matt
Posted Fri, 08/13/2010 - 16:33

i see pull ups in there. i cant do one at this point,and i see you can do negatives instead. could lat pull downs be substituted,or will negatives produce better results?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:04

Hi Matt,

I would try a few negatives or assisted pullups to help build some strength, and then do some lat pull downs.

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Teejay
Posted Fri, 09/03/2010 - 10:54

What could I replace Friday's upright rows with. I've read of the problem with upright rows with regards to the shoulder joints.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 09/07/2010 - 10:14

Hi Teejay,

I recommend seated Arnold dumbbell press.

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Andrew
Posted Sun, 09/26/2010 - 03:34

Hi Steve,

I've been doing S&M for about a month now. I've seen some progress, but I think some of the minor details may be holding me back. I have a few questions:

- The university I attend allots a certain amount of visits to the cafeteria for the week. I believe it is something like two meals/day during the week. This makes it hard to eat all day long. Also, they don't have whole milk, so I've been drinking two glasses of 2% milk. Could this be affecting weight gain?

- Most of the food I eat comes from a cafeteria or a place where the nutrition facts are not readily available. I'm conscious about eating "cleanly", but also eating a good amount. Is there a good way to approximate calories without having the nutrition facts handy?

- This may be a dumb question, but I have heard that one should be able to deadlift more than they squat, and squat more than they bench press. I have seen a major progression in weight for squat, but bench press and deadlift have capped out for me around 135. Is there some sort of muscle imbalance I should be concerned about (related to potential injury)?

Thanks,
Andrew

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Steve
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 10:13

Hi Andrew,

2% is fine. The important key to weight gain is overall calories. You are losing some with 2%, but still should be able to gain weight.

The best way to approach eating when nutrition facts aren't available is to use portion sizes. Fill up 1/3 of your plate with a protein, 1/3 with veggies and 1/3 with a starch (like rice, carbs). This will help you eat a proper balance.

Most people do deadlift more then they squat. Are you deep squatting below parallel?

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Andrew
Posted Wed, 09/29/2010 - 01:59

Great. Thanks for the clarification.

I go as far as I can go. I doubt it's below parallel...maybe parallel or slightly above. I had some guys watch me on Monday and they said my form looked solid and that I was squatting pretty deeply. I'll be sure to pay particular attention to that on Friday.

When I started training this past year, I hardly worked my back. I did machine rows and pull-ups once in a while, but never really hit it hard until this summer. That might be affecting my ability to do the deadlift well. Plus, I am not exactly a big guy. My arms, forearms in particular, are still relatively weak. Should I try a different approach for deadlifts?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 10/06/2010 - 09:17

Parallel is fine. Good to hear that your form is squared away.

Your deadlifts will improve rapidly. Just stay consistent and persistent.

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Andrew
Posted Wed, 10/06/2010 - 01:21

Steve,

I stand corrected. I deadlift much more than I squat. Especially with the correction of form to deep, below parallel squatting. I can hardly walk. I bought a weight gainer as well to make up for lost calories.

Thanks for the help.

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Jason
Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 01:52

G'day Steve,

With one of the Squats would it be okay to change it to 5 x 5?

Cheers

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Steve
Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 08:30

Hi Jason,

Absolutely. I would probably recommend a 5x5 on Monday so you are recovered on Friday.

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Jason
Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 20:35

Awesome, thank you very much for the reply.

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Jason
Posted Wed, 12/22/2010 - 22:14

G'day Steve,

Do you have to drink that much milk....is it a must?

I do have skim milk with my 3 shakes a day and I make up the rest of my calories with whole foods.

I'm getting about 3650 calories a day with about 285 grams of protein.

Is that enough for this workout?....I'm about the 98kg mark at the moment.

Cheers

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/23/2010 - 10:47

Hi Jason,

Drinking milk is certainly not the only way to help gain muscle and strength. Here are some articles that might help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-to-gaining-m...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

To answer your question, I'm not sure if 3600 calories per day is enough. If depends of whether you are gaining weight or not. Have you gained any weight the last several months with this approach?

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Jason
Posted Thu, 02/10/2011 - 17:33

G'day Steve,

Sorry for the delayed reply.

Um I've upped my calories to 3800 a day....I seem to be making abit of progress with gaining weight also my major lifts are increasing aswell....it's great!

Another questions I'm noticing I am sore for days usually.....Even up until the next workout, is that okay?

I try and warm up & stretch as best I can aswell as warming down.

Cheers

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