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Nick Nilsson: Mad Scientist of Muscle

Nick Nilsson has been providing training advice at his Web site,, in various e-books and most recently in hardcopy books, Muscle Explosion and Mad Scientist Muscle. His new IRON MAN column featuring off-the-wall muscle-building exercises and tactics is set to debut in an upcoming issue, so we thought a little background on the “Mad Scientist of Muscle” was in order. Here’s Nick.

How old are you, and where are you from? I’m 39 years old and originally from British Columbia, Canada, currently living in the Chicago area.

What got you into lifting, and how old were you? I first got into lifting because I had been a high-level endurance athlete for years, and I wanted to get big. I really got serious about it when I was 17 years old.

How often do you work out now? I train generally four or five times a week, depending on what program I’m using.

What is your best training tip? In my experience, I’ve found that the “genetic limitations” that most people think they have when it comes to building muscle are usually a result of the training they’re doing. It just isn’t properly preparing the physiology of their body to develop maximum muscle mass.

That’s something I go into in great detail in Mad Scientist Muscle, using specific training techniques to target the four things you can change about your body to better support muscle: connective tissue (improving tendons and ligament strength), circulation (increasing capillary density), nervous system (improving efficiency) and fascia (stretching to expand it).

By strategically targeting those aspect of your physiology with combinations of very heavy partial training, very high-rep training, explosive training and stretch-focused training, you can set the stage for substantial growth and erase those so-called genetic limitations you think you have.

What are diet tips that have helped you achieve your lifting goals? One of the most important things to remember about diet is that your body reacts hormonally to what you eat. It’s not just about calories and nutrients. You have to know how your body reacts to certain foods—for example, carbs—and how to use those hormonal reactions to best support muscle growth and fat loss. That’s one of the most powerful concepts natural bodybuilders have at their disposal to get results.

Once I figured that out, I found that I could build muscle and lose fat pretty much at will. It’s a powerful concept.

What keeps you motivated to train? Beyond just building muscle and strength, it’s a creative outlet. I’m known as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle” for a reason—I’m constantly creating new exercises and training techniques, not just to be different but to make things work better. And I honestly love sharing this stuff with others. It makes my day when people write and tell me that one of my exercises solved a problem they’ve been struggling with for years or that my program helped them build muscle when nothing else worked.

What is the biggest mistake you see in the gym? The biggest mistake I see is double trouble—poor form and exercise selection. People are either using the wrong exercises for the goals they’re trying to achieve or they’re using such poor form that the exercises aren’t giving them the results they should be getting—or both.

One of my primary missions with my books, articles and Web sites is to fix that bad form and give people exercises that really work, whether they are the common basic exercises or the unique stuff that I come up with in my basement “training lab.”

Do you have any upcoming projects? Absolutely. If you’re interested in building muscle and strength fast, I’d highly recommend checking out my Muscle Explosion program at It’s extremely challenging and is all about fast results. If you’ve hit a plateau, this would be a great fit for you.

If you’re looking for fat loss while maintaining muscle, try Metabolic Surge—Rapid Fat Loss (www You can also find my insane exercise e-books at www.TheBest

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