Posts Tagged ‘bodybuilding’

If I had to say what the biggest difference in the way I trained a year ago and the way i train now is, the difference would be bullheadedness.

To clarify, a year or two ago, I trained under the assumption that, because I’d read a couple of books, I knew all I needed to know. Not just the knowledge to get strong, but I was so smart I was going to reach my natural genetic potential. I’d see people doing exercises in the gym (exercises that I either didn’t like or wasn’t familiar with) and say, “Well, those might work for them, but I’m way different; I don’t need to [insert exercise here].” It was an ego boost to feel like I was doing the master-supremo-maximus workout and know that I had all the secrets to lifting heavy. Right up until someone would come in and hoist Pumping Iron-heavy weight and I’d be like, “Oh I’ll get there eventually.”

I think you really have to have someone come in and shock you with how much better they are than you for you to really give an honest assessment of where your mind and body are at.

You really have to get rid of the, “That works for them, but it won’t work for me, I’ll keep doing this,” mindset. I’d really been cheating myself every time I’d see someone come in and throw a couple hundo up and think to myself, “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing to get there,” as opposed to, “What the hell is this guy doing.”

Three people I’ve seen in my gym really come to mind (really because I’ve been able to watch what they do). These are really strong guys.

Two are essentially the grand masters of front and back squats, respectively. I’d come in and see them put 405 on the bar and push some reps and immediately think, “I hate squats, I am not good at squats.” Eventually, you reach a point where you have an internal dialogue that goes something like this:

>I want to squat big

>Okay, then do squats

>B-but I don’t like squats and they hurt

>Then stop lifting, nobody likes a guy that skips leg day

I think it’s a humbling moment to have made legitimate progress, but realize that what’s been holding you back is your lack of cojones.

For the longest time, my chest lagged behind everything else I did. It still does, but lets tell ourselves I’ve made progress. I got away with telling myself and others that I’d dislocated my shoulder (sophmore year of highschool) and couldn’t [read: didn’t want to] bench. Then I started to bench and eventually was just doing 3×6 bench every time I worked upper body, expecting to see results.

Enter the third guy.

Picture in your mind the physical manifestation of the words “human tank.” Chances are you have pictured him correctly: the widest set of shoulders I’ve ever seen and a gigantic chest. I’d come in and whenever I’d see him, the heaviest weights on the dumbbell racks would all be missing. About ten feet from the racks were 100, 110, and 120 lb dumbbells strewn about. Nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but an absolute beast. By then I’d had my epiphany: I was going to steal this guy’s chest routine.

I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing someone else’s routine. In fact, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. It’s an homage. Seeing someone with a great chest or great legs and not saying, “I need to do what he’s doing,” is what wasted so much of my time.

Been a while since my last post.

This one deals with exactly what the title says. How do you get ripped quick?

Well, that depends on your definition of “ripped.” Maybe your “ripped” is my “shredded,” or my “ripped” is your “cut.” We’ll deal with that later.

Something a lot of people overlook is diet. In fact, I’d say that diet is about half of the equation to having a good body, getting ripped, being healthy, et cetera. What many people will tout as a “good diet” is not something well suited to a lot of muscle mass. Lots of people will tell you, “oh yeah I’ve been eating a lot of Clif bars lately, dude,” or “man, you should get, like, more complex carbs and stuff.” These people have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

“What do I do then?”

Well, the best solution that I’ve found is Paleo. What is Paleo? It’s eating only what your ancestors would have eaten. It is, in many respects, similar to a gluten-free diet in the sense that you do not eat grains. Crazy, in this world of HFCS that we live in, but if you have the money or the perseverance to go through with the diet, you will see immediate and lasting changes in both your physical condition and your energy levels (even mood, to some degree).

The guidelines for Paleo are these:
– Don’t eat things that your hunter-gatherer ancestors wouldn’t have eaten (chocolate, ice cream, sorbet, Snickers, HFCS, etc.)

Pretty simple. But what is implied in this singular principle is what is important. The science behind the eat-like-your-hunter-gatherer-ancestors idea is solid. Science has arrived at something called the Glycemic Index. The GI of a food is simply how quickly it makes your blood sugar rise after you eat it. Why is this important? Well, that deserves its own paragraph

When sugar enters your system, your pancreas secretes insulin, which has the effect of lowering blood sugar, increasing anabolic functions of the body, and causing fat deposition. Insulin is released based on the demands of the body at that moment, as a safeguard against potentially neurotoxic hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). When you eat things that have a high glycemic index and eat a lot of it, your body has to secrete insulin to maintain a homeostatic balance in your blood and prevent you from damaging your body. All the sugar that would have made your nerves die off (as they do in diabetes) is now going straight into storage – fat. Insulin is the key factor in all of this, and it’s not the villain. Sugar is. Equally important is the fact that people tell you, “don’t eat fat, it makes you fat. ESPECIALLY SATURATED FAT.” Not true. Fat, unless it’s coupled with an insulinotropic food (causes insulin release), won’t be deposited into your adipose tissue to the same degree that sugar is. Your body, especially if you’re a male, NEEDS saturated fat. Low sat. fat causes low testosterone. I’m guessing you wouldn’t enjoy that.

Now, when I’m doing Paleo, I simply don’t have the time to do all the meal prep. So I get as close as possible. Cheese is okay, chicken tenders aren’t bad, and beef jerky is God. I’ll post a link to an awesome Paleo recipe website at the end.

Another diet tip: meal timing. A popular trend lately is people telling you to snack all through the day. “Five meals a day, to keep your metabolism boosted up,” they will say. Resist the urge to listen to them. They are unenlightened.

What to do? Intermittent Fasting. IF, like its brother Paleo (which, when coupled together are the best cutting method i’ve found) is loosely based upon what we assume our hunter gatherer ancestors did. While on the prowl, you don’t eat until you capture and kill something or you find it. IF 16/8 is the method I use, and I’m happy with it. Fast for 16 hours of the day and feast for 8. During a feast, you eat all of the calories that you were going to eat over the course of the day in that set amount of time. The science behind this again deals with insulin. When you eat five times over the course of the day, you’re experiencing five separate insulin spikes over the course of the day, keeping you anabolic (fat-depositing) almost the full day. During IF, you sleep then wake, and for however long you’re awake until your feast, you’re catabolic (fat-consuming). Ideally, you have your day’s workout just before your feast’s start so that you finish your lift (or whatever) and immediately start the anabolism that will help you rebuild (on paleo, you’re getting some awesome red meats and fats to help rebuild, too).

Now that we’re done with diet, on to training.

During my cut, I switched to a split (upper-lowerbody, alternating, ABxABxA), and have seen some crazy results. Because of restricted diet, you’re going to want to focus more on certain parts in the gym. I was finding that my modified big three program (Bench, Squat, and DL plus accessories every day) was getting really hard to do in the gym. Just motivation and energy running dry. The split is the perfect solution. Just as well, it allows you to focus more on each muscle group with separate exercises.

Focusing on stupid exercises will not get you anywhere, especially at this point in your training. Focus on the classic movements. Suffice it to say, nine different types of curls will not get you anywhere and I’ve never seen anyone get huge pecs by doing nothing but crazy-looking chest flyes every day. In the interest of your time, I’ll post my routine here for you, and you can take from it what you will.

All exercises to be done with the max weight for that amount of reps.

Chest/upper back day:

Overhead Press 3×6
Barbell Rows 3×8
Bench Press 2 sets warmup, 2×6, 1×8
Underhand bench press, 10, 8, 6
Wide grip pullups weighted, 8, 7, 6
Dips, 2×7
Kroc Rows 3×10
Hammer curls (cheating slightly) 8,7,6
Lateral raises 3×8
Heavy cheating shrugs 3×8
Hanging leg raises 10,8,6

Leg/lower back day

Deadlift 2 sets warmup, 3×5
Lowbar Back Squat 2 sets warmup 3×6
Calf raises (increased ROM) 3×8
Weighted Lunges 3×12 each side
Weighted Overhead Lunges 2×12 each side
Hanging Leg raises 10,8,6

Keep in mind, this is an advanced/intermediate program, and will probably leave you crippled with DOMS if you are new to lifting. My leg day still leaves me with crippling DOMS.

With the diet/training principles explained above, following them strictly you should see results in about a week, with noticeable gains in shreddedness about three weeks.

Feel free to post any questions you may have!

Paleo eating link: http://www.paleofood.com/

I talk about recovery and rest days, overtraining, and mistakes made

As a PT, a post like this is obligatory.

How do you get six-pack abs?

Two things: muscular hypertrophy and low bodyfat percentage. It’s as simple as that. How does it work so simply? Think about it – the “abs” are just a muscle, and like every muscle there are only two things you can do to alter its appearance: induce hypertrophy and make it bigger or reduce the layer of fat that rests on top of the muscle.

These same principles apply to the Rectus Abdominus (the abs).

People will tell you all kinds of things like:

  • You need to do sit-ups. Like a lot of them, upwards of 50 reps. Over and over again.
  • You should be eating berries or “X” food, as these foods or magic objects will help “spot reduce” abdominal fat.
  • You need to work your obliques a lot, as these muscles will make your six-pack “pop”
  • “X” thing can be used in “Y” way to “melt” fat off your abdominal muscles/activate abdominal muscles more/push abdominals through

Everything listed above is utter bullshit. I’ll go into the reasons why spot reduction is a myth in another post, but trust me – it is a lie. More important is hypertrophy of the rectus muscles: 50+ reps will not make the muscle grow and it will not spot-reduce fat. All that it’ll due is put stress on your lumbar spine. Any exercises I mention you should do slow enough that the 6-8 reps that you will do burn and are a challenge near the end. We need to stress your muscles to the point that they increase in size. That’s how the most impressive abs are built.

To get a beautiful six-pack, all that is required is a little extra effort, conscientiousness about your habits, and about 7 extra minutes on your routine, explained here:

1. Don’t neglect squats and deadlifts:

The squat and the deadlift are integral to core strength and building your core as a whole. I put this first because there’s really no point in having six-pack abs if you’re just going to hurt yourself by having a weak back or intercostals. Essential to the squat and deadlift both is the concept of a respiratory “block.” You do this by inhaling and contracting your intercostal, oblique, and rectus abdominus muscles to build a stable “block” that keeps the spine in isolation from the rest of the exercise. The abdominals are held in isometric contraction agains the respiratory block you’ve created the whole time you’re even 1% into the squat: thus the squat is an excellent core exercise in addition to being a leg exercise.

2. Do ab rollouts

The ab rollout is an excellent exercise. I do them with my knees on a bench, making sure I focus on the abdominal contraction (they’re also excellent for your serratus muscles). Essentially you just take a barbell or an ab wheel and… roll it out, go out to arms about parallel to your body (no farther, as this can be injurious to your rotator cuff). They’re all I currently do.

3. Leg raises

Self explanatory: do them. they hit the lower abs in a way that the rollouts do not.

4. Eat Paleo

This means eat mainly proteins and fats. The notion that saturated fats are bad for you and unsaturated aren’t is mostly myth. Everything in moderation, and you’ll be fine – in fact, you need saturated fats: too little and you risk decreased testosterone levels. Carbs are your abs’ worst enemies. They cause insulin release and insulin causes fat deposition. Fat covers your abs. You want your abs visible. Solution? Eat more protein, more fats, less carbs. Simple.

5. Don’t skimp on your heavy compounds.

Forget running, forget swimming. There is nothing that burns calories and stokes your metabolic fire like heavy compound lifts. Squats, deadlifts, power cleans, snatches, and heavy presses all are excellent ways to supplement your fat-loss dieting. Without ruining your joints and energy levels like running does, these exercises build (highly metabolically active) muscle and burn fat off.

6. Don’t give up

It sucks, but nothing happens overnight. especially for me, I had to build muscle before I lost fat, and even then, it was hard to keep off. In my experience, you’ll hit a breaking point where you’re finally comfortable or competent enough to really turn your 80% up to 110% and really see results. Keep going and be real with yourself about the level of effort you’re applying and I promise you’ll eventually look the way you want. Determination is insurmountable.

Go for it: there’s really nothing that’s holding you back.

-Matt