In 2018, my team and I published 90 articles here on Legion Athletics (and another 72 over at Muscle for Life’s blog and 152 podcast episodes on The Muscle for Life Podcast).

That was a bit less content than I planned on creating this year, but I have good excuses, damnit!

First, I went full hermit for a couple months and wrote (and recorded audiobooks for) three new books:

And the results have me purring like a dog that just ate a happy cat.

The Little Black Book was published on August 30th, 2018 and is already approaching 30,000 copies sold, and PARDON THE GRANDIOSITY, but I want BLS and TLS 3.0 to go down as the greatest fitness books ever written.

While that may or may not happen, they’re the absolute best fitness books I’m currently capable of writing, so I can’t wait to get feedback from readers. They’ll be available in the next couple months, so keep them grapes peeled.

Second, well, I guess that’s my only good excuse, actually. And yes no I didn’t couch that as an excuse so I could shamelessly plug my new books.

Anyway, this is the information you crave, I know.

MOVING ON . . .

. . . to a list of the 10 most popular Legion articles in 2018.

If you’re a regular around these parts, you’ve probably read at least some of these guys already, but who knows, maybe now’s the perfect time to peruse them again? Don’t disagree with me.

As expected, most of the winners are about building muscle and losing fat and some were predictable, but there were a few surprises as well.

Enjoy!

The Top 10 Legion Articles of 2018

Here are the top 10 articles for 2018:

  1. The 3 Best and Worst Natural Appetite Suppressants to Kill Cravings
  2. The Truth About BMI Charts… (Isn’t What You Think)
  3. The 3 Best and Worst Anti-Inflammatory Supplements (According to Science)
  4. The 8 Best Exercises for Building Bigger & Stronger Lats (As Fast As Possible)
  5. The 3 Best (and Worst) Natural Sleep Aids
  6. The 3 Best and Worst Greens Supplements
  7. How Much Fat Can You Gain in a Single Day of Bingeing? What 20 Studies Say
  8. The 10 Best Exercises for Building Bigger & Stronger Traps (As Fast As Possible)
  9. The Definitive Guide to Beta-Alanine Supplementation
  10. Should You Use Supersets to Build Muscle Faster? What 18 Studies Say

And if all that isn’t enough to get you to click something, here are a bunch of words to make you rethink your inaction . . .

The 3 Best and Worst Natural Appetite Suppressants to Kill Cravings

If you bushwhack your way deep enough into the weight loss jungle, you’ll eventually arrive at the truth:

All you need to do is create an energy deficit (eat fewer calories than you burn) to drive fat loss and eat enough protein and lift enough weights to preserve muscle, and you’ve got it made.

That can be easier said than done, however.

One of the biggest obstacles that bedevils even the most informed dieters are plain ol’ hunger and cravings.

Restrict your calories for long enough and you will experience these nemeses to one degree or another. They’re simply the price you have to pay to get lean, and the cost rises the leaner you want to get.

Not only does this make the overall experience of dieting less enjoyable, it also sets you up for a nasty rebound after your cut is over, which can land you back at square one.

And while eating a high-protein, high-fiber diet, exercising (ironically), and getting enough sleep can all help keep hunger and cravings at bay, there are also safe, natural, effective supplements you can use to take the edge off.

And that’s what you’ll learn in this article.

It teaches you . . .

  • What causes hunger
  • The difference between hunger and appetite
  • How appetite suppressants work
  • The three best natural appetite suppressants
  • The three worst natural appetite suppressants
  • And more!

Here’s the article:

The 3 Best and Worst Natural Appetite Suppressants to Kill Cravings

The Truth About BMI Charts… (Isn’t What You Think)

“BMI charts are bogus”

“BMI Is A Terrible Measure Of Health”

“5 BMI Myths You Need To Stop Believing”

Those are the titles of several articles on BMI published in the last few years. If you take them at face value, then you’ll come to one conclusion:

BMI is outdated, overrated, and inaccurate, and it’s time we retired it for good.

In case you don’t know, BMI stands for “body mass index,” and it’s a measurement of the relationship between your height and weight.

For decades, BMI has been used by doctors to help determine whether or not someone should consider losing or gaining weight, but recently, this idea has come under fire.

Detractors say that you can’t distill what it means to be healthy into a single number.

Others say that people who are “big boned” are going to be unfairly labeled as overweight according to their BMI.

And still others point out that BMI charts don’t work well for muscular people.

What are you supposed to think?

This article will help you cut through the noise. In it, you’ll learn:

  • What BMI is, why it’s used so often, and what it really means
  • Whether or not BMI charts are accurate for determining if someone is overweight
  • Whether or not BMI charts work for muscular and “big-boned” people
  • A better way to measure your health other than BMI
  • And more.

Here’s the article:

The Truth About BMI Charts… (Isn’t What You Think)

The 3 Best and Worst Anti-Inflammatory Supplements (According to Science)

The Oxford English Dictionary defines inflammation as “ . . . a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”

In other words, it’s basically the process the body uses to defend itself against illness and injury.

It’s also a complex, poorly understood phenomenon that’s involved in many illnesses, adaptations, and processes in the body. To make matters more puzzling, inflammation can have both positive and negative effects on the body depending on the circumstances.

We also know that generally eating healthier foods, exercising, and taking some supplements can help reduce inflammation, but exactly which foods, what kinds of exercise, and which supplements are still largely best guesses.

Marketers have capitalized on the muddle to peddle all kinds of anti-inflammatory supplements, claiming they can reduce your risk of a long list of illnesses and ailments.

Just take a few pills and powders, they say, and you can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more.

How true are these claims, though?

What supplements are scientifically proven to reduce inflammation, and which ones are backed by little more than buzzwords?

You’ll find the answers in this article.

It teaches you . . .

  • What anti-inflammatory supplements do
  • Why people take anti-inflammatory supplements
  • The best three anti-inflammatory supplements that really work
  • The worst three anti-inflammatory supplements that don’t work
  • And more.

Here’s the article:  

The 3 Best and Worst Anti-Inflammatory Supplements (According to Science)

The 8 Best Exercises for Building Bigger & Stronger Lats (As Fast As Possible)

Once upon a time, my lats sucked, and I didn’t understand why.

I was training my back anywhere from one to three times per week but for some damn reason, my lats barely seemed to notice.

What was it, I wondered? Diet mistakes? Poor workout programming? Genetics? Pitiful natty status?

Well, I’ve since learned a lot, and while I’m not going to win a bodybuilding show anytime soon (not for me anyway), I did finally figure out how to get some lats I can be proud of:

lat exercises

And in this article, I share with you the key lessons I’ve learned about lat building, so you can break (or stay) out of the rut I was once stuck in and build your best back ever, too.

In it, you’ll learn:

  • The two most common mistakes that keep people from growing their lats
  • The eight best lat exercises for building a bigger, stronger back
  • How to perform a back/lat workout routine that will help you put everything else into practice.

Here’s the article:

The 8 Best Exercises for Building Bigger & Stronger Lats (As Fast As Possible)

The 3 Best (and Worst) Natural Sleep Aids

Imagine if you could fall asleep easily and quickly.

Imagine if you slept deeper and didn’t wake up several times per night.

Imagine waking up feeling rested, restored, and rejuvenated.

This isn’t supposed to be a fantasy. In fact, this is how your body is programmed to work.

Unfortunately, though, we can screw this programming up through simple, innocent mistakes.

Many people make these mistakes and, unwittingly, turn to hypnotics, sedatives, and depressants (alcohol) to combat their sleep troubles.

This opens the door to some rather serious side effects, such as . . .

  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations

And an increased risk of infections, cancer, and overall mortality.

Not to mention problems related to drug tolerance, which necessitates ever-increasing prescriptions and dosages.

The good news, though, is many people experiencing sleep troubles don’t need drugs to get a good night’s sleep.

While your first line of defense should always be improving your daily sleep habits and routines, sometimes that doesn’t fix the problem or doesn’t fix it fast enough.

The good news is that there are safe, healthy, and effective natural sleep aids you can take to get better, more restorative sleep without compromising your mental or physical health.

And you’re going to learn all about them in this article. Specifically, it teaches you . . .

  • Why people take natural sleep aids
  • How natural sleep aids work
  • The three best natural sleep aids
  • The three worst natural sleep aids
  • Which natural sleep aids are safe and which aren’t
  • And more.

Here’s the article:

The 3 Best (and Worst) Natural Sleep Aids

The 3 Best and Worst Greens Supplements

It’s a well-known fact that people who eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables are, on the whole, healthier and more likely to live longer, disease-free lives than those who don’t eat enough.

It’s also a well-known fact that few people meet the government’s recommended intake of fruits and vegetables, which is six to eight fist-sized servings per day, respectively.

Sure, it would be great if everyone simply ate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day, but that’s not happening any time soon.

Additionally, some plant-based nutrients are also hard to get from your normal selection of produce, making supplementation an attractive option.

For these reasons, greens supplements have become more and more popular. The idea of a supplement replacing the nutritional need for eating a wide spectrum of fruits and vegetables sounds great in theory.

Unfortunately, the average greens supplement does a poor job of this. Many of the ingredients are often woefully low essential micronutrients, unjustifiably high in some, and missing others altogether.

How can you separate the good greens supplements from the bad ones?

What ingredients should you look for in a good greens supplement, and at what dosages?

What ingredients do you not want in your greens supplement?

You’ll find the answers to these questions and more in this article.

It teaches you . . .

  • Why people buy greens supplements
  • Who should and shouldn’t use greens supplements
  • The best three greens supplement ingredients
  • The worst three greens supplement ingredients
  • Whether or not taking greens supplements every day is safe
  • What to avoid when buying a greens supplement
  • And more.

Here’s the article:

The 3 Best and Worst Greens Supplements

How Much Fat Can You Gain in a Single Day of Bingeing? What 20 Studies Say

Here’s an inviolable truth of nutrition science:

If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight.

And the more calories you eat, the more weight you’ll gain, and the more of that weight will be fat.

That begs the question, though.

Is there a limit to how much fat you can gain in, say, a single day?

Can 24 hours of uninhibited gluttony really lead to several pounds of fat gain, as some claim? Or is the ceiling lower? And if so, where is it and why?

That’s what you’re going to learn in this article.

The truth is that you can gain a large amount of fat from a single day of bingeing, but it’s probably less than you think.

In this article, you’ll learn . . .

  • How your body stores fat
  • How much fat you can really gain in a single day
  • How to minimize fat gain if you have your heart set on plundering the kitchen

Here’s the article:

How Much Fat Can You Gain in a Single Day of Bingeing? What 20 Studies Say

The 10 Best Exercises for Building Bigger & Stronger Traps (As Fast As Possible)

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a fetish for traps.

Yes, I want them to be developed and proportionate with the rest of my physique, but I still kinda like having a neck.

That said, there was a time when even I thought my traps were too small, and especially compared to my chest and biceps.

(Gee, I wonder why that was? Pressing and curling too much and pulling too little? Who does that!?)

Here’s what I’m talking about:

trap exercises

Pretty MEH considering I had been lifting consistently for about 7 years when I took this picture.

Well, fast forward to today and here’s where I’m at now:

best trap exercises

Sure, I’m not on this guy’s level, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to do with my traps (and physique on the whole).

As you can see, well-developed traps help “frame” your upper body and aesthetically connect your neck to your shoulders. It also makes your torso look thicker, which in turn makes your waist look smaller from the side.

And in this article, I share the key lessons I’ve learned about building my traps, so you can break (or stay) out of the rut I was once stuck in and get the traps you really want, too.

It teaches you . . .

  • The two most common mistakes that keep people from growing their traps
  • The 10 best trap exercises for building a bigger, stronger upper back
  • How to perform a back/trap workout routine that will help you put everything else into practice.

Here’s the article:

The 10 Best Exercises for Building Bigger & Stronger Traps (As Fast As Possible)

The Definitive Guide to Beta-Alanine Supplementation

Take this supplement and you’ll be able to train harder.

Train harder and you’ll gain more muscle and strength.

Gain more muscle and strength and you’ll get the body you want faster.

The pitch sounds alluring . . . and familiar . . . right?

It’s how pre-workout supplements (among others) are sold, of course.

And these days, many of the most popular pre-workout supplements contain beta-alanine and spotlight it as a key component.

According to their product labels, beta-alanine increases strength, power, and endurance during strength training, sprinting, and most sports.

On the other hand, the skeptics claim that while beta-alanine may help with sports that involve a lot of sprinting, like soccer, football, and basketball, it won’t help you perform better in your strength workouts. Plus, they warn that there aren’t enough studies to prove that beta-alanine is safe.

Who’s right?

The short answer is that beta-alanine can help you squeeze out a few more sets and reps in your workouts and it will almost certainly help you perform better in your HIIT workouts, but it probably isn’t going to directly increase your strength.

In this article, you’ll learn . . .

  • What beta-alanine is
  • What the benefits and side effects of beta-alanine are
  • How much beta-alanine you have to take to see results
  • The best beta-alanine supplements
  • And more.

Here’s the article:

The Definitive Guide to Beta-Alanine Supplementation

Should You Use Supersets to Build Muscle Faster? What 18 Studies Say

Supersets are a staple of classic bodybuilding workouts.

You find them in almost every muscle-building magazine, book, and blog, and Golden-era bodybuilders like Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, and Arnold swore by them.

But how effective are supersets?

And how do they compare to simpler muscle building techniques like increasing volume (reps), frequency, or intensity (load)?

Well, the short story is that supersets aren’t inherently good or bad—it all comes down to how you use them. Use them correctly, and they can help you finish your workouts faster without hurting your performance. Use them incorrectly, however, and they’ll probably slow down your progress.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What supersets are
  • Whether or not supersets help you build muscle faster
  • Whether or not supersets help you gain strength faster
  • Whether or not supersets help you lose fat faster
  • Whether or not supersets can replace cardio in your workout routine
  • A better kind of superset for gaining muscle and strength.

Here’s the article:

Should You Use Supersets to Build Muscle Faster? What 18 Studies Say

That’s All for 2018, Folks

If you read these 10 articles, you’re going to know more about strength training, muscle building, and fat loss than most everyone in the gym.

Whether you’re totally new to fitness and are looking to make a fresh start this year, or are a veteran gymrat chasing that next notch in your (weightlifting) belt, you can get a lot out of these articles.

I hope you enjoy reading everything as much as I enjoyed creating it, and there’s a lot more to come this year!

What would you like me to write about in 2019? What can I do better? Let me know in the comments below!