This is an article I had written for Scivation, but they decided it was too long, so I figured i’d just post it on my blog
Slow Steady Progress
When I was in my twenties, progress in terms of muscular development and strength was easy to come by. For instance, I would have periods where I was able to set PRs every single week in the gym. There were several factors that contributed to this. First, as a young amateur competitor, there was plenty of room for improvement. Second, my body’s recovery capability at that point in my life was exceptional. Lastly, I had not yet sustained as much long term wear and tear on my tendons and joints, so nothing was ever interfering with my ability to train with maximum intensity. In other words, it was easier to enable muscle growth regardless of what approach I took, as long as I maximized my input.
At 37 years old, having trained for over 20 years, improvements to my physique come at a much steeper price. I once taught Economics and I can therefore parallel this idea to the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns. This law states that with other inputs fixed in the short run, as you increase the variable input, total output will increase, but at a decreasing rate (this is typically used to analyze the effects on output of an increase in labor in the short run while capital remains fixed). This can otherwise be termed as declining marginal productivity. This is similar to what I have experienced over the course of my bodybuilding career. As I have continued to allocate more resources towards the relentless pursuit of excellence in improving my physique, greater and greater inputs have yielded smaller results over my sixteen year bodybuilding career.
There are, however, two things to realize here. First off, even though progress increases at a decreasing rate over time, it still continues to increase as long as you’re keeping up with input. Second, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns is specific to the short run where other inputs such as capital are fixed. In Economics, this can be offset by changes in physical and intellectual capital, technology, etc. in the long run, which enables greater output with the same level of input. This means periodic enhancements of the capital infrastructure can reset the equation.
So how does this translate to bodybuilding and making progress with one’s physique? In the long run with training, more inputs become variable as well (rather than fixed). These include: access to new information, implementation of new training and nutritional methodologies, use of new equipment and implementation of new exercises or new approaches to the same exercises. Just as companies must adapt in order to increase the production possibilities frontier, we as physique athletes must adapt our approaches to continue pushing the limits of our genetic potential.
There are two important points to recognize here: First, long run total output is the product of consistent input over a long period of time. Second, one must recognize when short run output potential has been maximized (marginal cost = marginal benefit) and be open-minded enough to adapt and manipulate other variables (implementation of new methodologies, exercises, etc). The bottom line is that while effort is important, it is not enough to make you a successful competitor in the second and third decade of your career. It’s not always about training harder…sometimes you need to train smarter. Applying ridiculous levels of effort with the same old methods will not only stop yielding positive results, but can actually detract from total output (consistent with the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns, which states that at a point increasing input in the short term will yield negative returns). It’s easy to make progress in the early years of your career. Continuing to make gains in the later years, when you’re approaching your theoretical genetic potential, requires periodic innovation. When you look at the upper echelon of competitive natural bodybuilding, the margins that decipher between the top pros get smaller and smaller. The great ones are those who find a way to continue to improve!
I really do not have a name for this recipe, but they taste good and they are convenient.
Here are the ingredients:
4 cups Liquid Eggwhites, 8 Whole Eggs, 2 bags frozen (total of 24 oz) Asparagus, 1 cup Oats, 1 can black beans (this is a new addition to the original recipe…first time i’ve used black beans), Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle, Black Pepper, Cholula Hot Sauce
Slightly thaw and chop up asparagus, drain and wash black beans in a colander…mix all ingredients together in blender
After thoroughly blending ingredients, I poured even amounts into eight 500 ml Pyrex dishes (I coated with nonstick cooking spray first)
Because of the amount of water in Asparagus, these will need to bake for about an hour at 350 degrees
Each muffin has about 25 grams protein, 18 grams carbs (5 grams fiber), 5.6 grams fat
In this post, I am going to share a favorite recipe of mine for Breakfast Muffins. These are simple to make, they are delicious and they are great for when you’re on the go. They also only contain healthy ingredients and provide a solid balance of macronutrients.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
Liquid Eggwhites, Whole Eggs (use the good ones with plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids), cooked sweet potatoes (I buy organic sweet potatoes, wash them, dice them and then bake them with Saigon Cinnamon on them), Rolled Oats, Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt, Pumpkin Puree (canned), Scivation Vanilla Whey Protein Powder, Saigon Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ground Cloves, Splenda, Baking Soda, Baking Powder
First of all, I make large batches of food because I cook for the entire week and I eat a lot. In order to handle the amount of ingredients required to make 16 muffins in one shot, I have a Ninja Blender. I bought this blender specifically for making recipes like this, so that I could efficiently produce double batches. The Ninja Blender has a 1000 watt motor (twice the power of a typical blender), 3 sets of blades and a 72 oz capacity (at least twice the size of a typical blender). If you don’t have a Ninja Blender I would highly recommend getting one if you want to make stuff like this regularly. DO NOT try to mix this amount of ingredients in a regular blender…it won’t work and you’ll make a giant mess.
Amounts used to make 16 muffins:
3 cups liquid eggwhites, 6 whole eggs, 1.5 cups oats, 16 oz cooked sweet potatoes, 1 can pumpkin, 1.5 cups nonfat plain greek yogurt, 4 scoops Scivation Whey protein (vanilla), 6 packets splenda, Saigon Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ground Cloves (didn’t measure spices), about 1 tspn baking soda and baking powder
Blend all ingredients together until you get a nice homogenous mixture…if the batter is too thick, then you can either add more liquid eggwhites or water (btw, this batter can be used to make waffles or pancakes as well)
Make sure you use nonstick cooking spray on the pans (you can also use small pyrex dishes) before pouring the batter in
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes
With the amount of ingredients used, divided amongst 16 muffins, each muffin has roughly the following macronutrients:
Protein: 18 grams, Carbohydrates: 20 grams (3.5g fiber), Fat: 3.5 grams
Obviously you can modify the amounts of the ingredients and/or the serving size to meet your own specific nutritional requirements
Awhile back I did a post about supplement prioritization:
I wanted to revisit this subject and provide a brief review of different supplements I find to be beneficial and how they are categorized
Omega 3 fatty acids
Fish Oil: provides EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
-promotes cardiovascular health
-reduces high cholesterol and high blood pressure
-anti-inflammatory, promotes healthy joints
-supports cognitive function and well-being
-promotes eye health
-promotes optimal fat metabolism
-aids in prevention of certain cancers
Flax Oil: provides ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)
-contributes to healthy immune system
- promotes health of bone and musculoskeletal system
-aids in cognition and healthy mood
- immune system health
-reduce risk of heart diseas
-helps lower high blood pressure
-reduces risk of cancer
-Joint health, helps offset conditions of osteoarthritis
(In addition to citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, greens such as broccoli and brussel sprouts also provide a significant source of Vitamin C). Your need to supplement with Vitamin depends on how much you’re getting from food in your daily diet. Don’t drink juice to get vitamin C (unless you’re making it yourself at home)…juice is just concentrated sugar…it will have as drastic an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels as soda.
Glucosamine (joint health)
Results from studies on glucosamine seemed to have mixed reviews
Metabolic Optimizers & General Health
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Acetyl L Carnitine
Agmatine is a promising new supplement
Muscle Building & Recovery
Scivation Xtend (BCAAs, glutamine, citrulline malate, Vitamin B6, electrolytes)
HMB which gained much popularity around a decade ago, before it’s efficacy became questioned for a period of time, has since made a strong comeback. Studies support using 3-6 grams per day for strength retention and lean mass preservation, especially under conditions of a hypocaloric diet.
Performance, Strength, Ergogenic Aids
- replenishes ATP levels, allowing for sustained strength and stamina when training in an anaerobic zone
-acts as a cell volumizer, hydrating the muscle cell for a fuller, harder appearance.
-Increases strength, mass and power
This video, featuring Layne Norton, provides in depth look at the benefits of creatine and how it works:
Beta Alanine acts as a buffer to neutralize/offset the effects of elevation of hydrogen ion concentration (which lowers pH levels in the muscle). Beta Alanine functions as a carnosine synthesizer…elevated carnosine levels help absorb the hydrogen ions, which are responsible for hindering and impairing muscular function and performance. Beta Alanine results in greater output, anaerobic endurance and delay of fatigue.
Creatinol O Phosphate
This is another new supplement that seems to be very promising
Optimizing Your Contest Prep
At the request of Richard Gozdecki, the 2011 WNBF Pro World Overall Champion, I was inspired to write a piece outlining my approach for a successful transition from off-season to contest prep in an effort to maximize both strength and muscle retention during the process of eliminating bodyfat. I also wanted to highlight the fundamentals of how to optimize prep so you can look your best onstage.
Let me start by saying I am a firm believer in staying lean during the off-season. You want to keep yourself within striking distance. I compete at around 198-200 lbs. During my off-season, peak weight is usually 218-220 lbs and more often I stay as low as 212-215 lbs. This means I typically am not carrying more than 10% above my contest weight. I realize that this will vary from one individual to another and I know some very successful pros who will allow themselves to carry a significantly higher percentage above stage weight and they have shown progress year to year doing so. You have to figure out what works best for you. I personally find no benefit to being more than 15-20 lbs above stage weight and even find it detrimental (decreases my energy level and increases joint pain) when I go above that (without any gains in strength).
So Rule #1 is to stay somewhat lean in the off-season. I realize you probably want something more definitive. Based on a 7 point skin caliper test I prefer to stay between 6-7%, but I see no reason for anyone to get above 8-9%.
Rule #2: Being ahead of schedule is being on schedule! You can always slow things down, by adding calories or reducing the amount of cardio you’re doing, but you never want to have to speed things up…that’s when you’ll risk losing muscle, flattening out, becoming fatigued, etc.
While you want to be somewhat lean as you shift gears towards contest season, I actually recommend elevating calories to your highest off-season level during the last 4-6 weeks prior to prep. The idea behind this is to get your body acclimated to more calories in an effort to up-regulate your metabolism, so that when you make your initial reductions (at the beginning of prep), not only will your body be more responsive, but it also gives you a higher starting point and thus more room to cut from during the entire process.
Rather than going from this state of elevated calories (peak off-season) to contest prep, I suggest a two week transitional phase. During this time you start shifting gears with a prioritization on eliminating bodyfat and acclimating the body to performing under conditions of caloric deficit and increased activity level. This would include cleaning things up…if you include cheat meals and cheat foods during the off-season, get rid of them during this time frame. Start reducing portions and shift towards the macronutrient targets you’ll use during the first week of official contest preparation. This transitional phase might also include an increase in cardiovascular exercise depending on how much you’re doing during the off-season. I personally don’t have much of reduction in cardio during off-season…I tend to perform cardio most days year round regardless of whether or not I’m competing. For someone who is only doing maybe 3 days of cardio in the off-season, I would bump it up to 4 or 5 during the transitional phase.
While i’m on the subject of cardio, there are a couple things that need mentioning. First off, I strongly advise separating cardio from your workout (my only exception to this is hill sprints that I do directly after my 2 lower body workouts). If you workout in the morning, then do your cardio later in the day. If you do your workout later in the day, then do your cardio in the morning. Off-season or contest prep, when you finish your workout you want to get vital post-workout nutrition in your body immediately…no delay. Under conditions of caloric deficit during contest prep, if you extend the duration of the workout by adding cardio to the end you greatly increase the risk of muscle loss. Second point on cardio, if you perform your cardio first thing in the morning DO NOT DO CARDIO ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, unless you like burning off the muscle you worked so hard to gain. At a minimum, take in some whey protein prior to morning cardio.
For determining the official start of contest prep, give yourself plenty of time. Using my guideline of 6-7% off-season bodyfat level, I would suggest a minimum of 20 weeks in order to be ready. For someone carrying a little extra (8-9%), I would probably suggest 22-25 weeks, depending on bodytype (some people are more responsive than others to caloric deficits). Realize that progress in the initial weeks will always be most considerable, but as you lose more bodyfat, the body becomes more resistant and you are more likely to stumble upon plateaus. You have to allow yourself adequate time to figure out how to manipulate the appropriate variables in order to burst through those plateaus and continue progressing. This is why it always pays to be ahead of schedule. You should set a goal of eliminating all subcutaneous bodyfat by 4-6 weeks out from your show. This then gives you time at the end to start rebuilding your metabolism and gives your body time to adjust to mild increases in carbohydrates in an effort to fill out and tighten up during the remaining weeks. Going into a show being extremely carb depleted in the final weeks can leave you flat, while you also risk spilling over (result of being overly carb sensitive from aggressive caloric deficit and carb depletion), because you did not allow enough time for your insulin sensitivity to adjust. By giving yourself plenty of time and taking it slow, you can also allow weekly carbohydrate refeeds to avoid overdepletion. This periodic elevation of calories will help you avoid thyroid issues and will also help maintain normal insulin sensitivity (reminds your body how to handle extra carbbohydrates). The periodic spikes in calorie levels will also help keep strength and energy levels sustained.
I suggest breaking your contest preparation diet into 3-4 week phases during which you make only the amount of changes needed to maintain slow steady progress. You always want to leave another gear to pull for, especially during the first half or two-thirds of prep. Give yourself goals and checkpoints to reach along the way. I keep meticulous records from past contest prep along with progress pics, so at any point I can go back and see where I was in terms or weight, bodyfat or appearance at any stage of prep. I compare this with the present to make sure I’m staying on track and AHEAD OF SCHEDULE! Your goal should be to maintain slow steady progress, allowing your body time to adapt to minor modifications and avoid shocking your body with drastic changes that include excessive cardio and/or extreme consecutive days of caloric deficit. By gradually eliminating bodyfat over an extended period of time via minor modifications you’ll likely have much better strength and muscle retention and will also likely experience higher energy levels. I want to reiterate that progress in the beginning of prep will always come easier than at the end. It’s much easier to go from 8% bodyfat down to 5% than it is to go from 5% down to 3%. It might take 4 weeks to lose the last percentage of bodyfat, while in the beginning you could easily drop from 7% down to 6% in the first week or two. This needs to be taken into consideration when determining your checkpoints and time allotted to reach contest condition.
I would also suggest that there is a point, when you put the pedal to the metal and take all measures to get as lean as possible. Generally speaking, for me this is between 10 weeks out and 4 weeks out. This is usually the most grueling period of the entire prep. The first 10 weeks are easy…if you struggle during that time, you might want to choose another activity or refine your approach. The last 4 weeks should actually get easier. If you did things right at that point you don’t have bodyfat to lose, but you are making minor refinements to see what works best in terms of food types and amount as you approach the last week.
In terms of training, one suggestion I would make is to utilize glycogen depleting style workouts in the earlier phases of prep when you are taking in more carbohydrates and you have more bodyfat to lose. Performing high rep sets on compound movements (15-20 rep sets of squats or deadlifts), giant sets, etc. are more beneficial when you have more reserves in the tank. These methods can be very beneficial to help force your body to shift energy sources to it’s fat reserves after you’ve burned through glycogen stored in the muscles. Performing highly exhaustive sets in the later part of your prep when you have little to no bodyfat and are running on limited carbohydrates can be more detrimental. At this stage glycogen reserves are likely already depleted (or can be depleted rapidly) and there are no fat reserves to turn to. At this stage exhaustive glycolytic training can result in muscle loss, impaired recovery and extreme fatigue. You have to know when to switch gears. When you get to the point where your bodyfat is extremely low, I would recommending emphasizing muscle tension, especially on the larger compound movements (squats and deadlifts). Performing pauses, slow descents, and use of things like band tension all with higher weight for less reps will help further visually enhance the fibrous details in your muscles and prevent over depletion (flat muscles don’t look hard…they look small and soft). Think about what you’re doing onstage…your putting your muscles under constant tension (even in the so-called relaxed poses, which don’t really allow you to relax)…the longer you pose, the harder you look. Why not allow your training to mimic and enhance what you are required to do onstage. As an example, pausing at the top of a leg extension or squat simulate how you flex the thighs in the front relaxed position…forcing a paused squeeze in your chest at the end of a cable flys or d-bell fly will make your most muscular look that much better.
My last piece of advice is how to handle the last week prior to the show, which competitors like to refer to as “peak week”. Countless number of competitors seem make the most costly mistakes in their effort to get dialed in during the last week. While I’m not going to give overly specific advice here (you would have to hire me for that), I will simply say to avoid anything drastic. Ideally at 2 weeks out, when you’re practicing your posing you should be comfortable with your conditioning and appearance even if it were show day. If you think there is some magic formula that is going to make you look extra dry and tight, think again. There are some minor adjustments to carbohydrates, sodium and inclusion or exclusion of food types that might be able to help you optimize, but drastic methods will only result in one thing…disappointment! Every year I hear from some competitor who decides to drastically increase/decrease sodium, water, carbs during the last week or suddenly introduce a new food during the last days (or even the day of the show), because their friend Joe Bodybuilder who competed in the local hometown bodybuilding show back in 1986 told them to do so. If you look great 2 weeks out…you’re full, you’re hard, you’re vascular and striated, why are you suddenly going to do something in the last week that you haven’t done during your entire prep??? Competitors who regularly drink 2 gallons of water and several grams of sodium a day will suddenly eliminate water and/or sodium the days prior to a show. If you utilized carbohydrate restriction to get lean and were able to look full and hard during posing practice on limited carbs, then why are you going to super carb load the day or two before the show. Some may also decide to suddenly throw in something like simple processed sugars the day of the show, when there body hasn’t seen these things for half a year. In the weeks leading up to the show, you manipulate the variables to figure out what works and don’t start throwing ridiculous curveballs at the very end. You should know optimal carbohydrate sources and amounts that enable you to look full and dry and you should know the approximate amount of sodium and water that enable you to look full and vascular, yet not too much to cause water retention. Be smart! Avoid anything drastic in the last week. Don’t ruin 6 months of hard work by experimenting during the last week. Whatever you did to get you into contest shape is what will make you look your best on show day. Observe your body carefully during the last 4 weeks and figure out how to optimize, then go into the last week with nothing to guess about.
Preparation is essential for success in all endeavors…especially bodybuilding. Every Weekend I spend quite a bit of time prepping my food for the week, so I thought i’d share a few pics…by Saturday afternoon I had every meal for the week made
First meal of the day if are breakfast muffins made from eggs, eggwhites, oats, asparagus and seasonings
Meals 2 & 3 are comprised of Chicken, Broccoli, Yucaton Guacamole, spicy brown mustard, Red Hot and Cholula + Black Pepper + Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning (in the picture you mainly just see broccoli)
Meal 4 (which is my preworkout meal) is comprised of Turkey Cutlet, Broccoli, Hummus and Sweet Potato
After my workout I have muffins made ahead of time from eggwhites, whey, sweet potato, oats, pumpkin puree + seasonings
My 6th meal of the day is a imple bridge meal between my PWO meal and my pre-bedtime meal: Turkey Cutlets and Brussel Sprouts w/ seasonings
My last meal of the day is the only one not prepped ahead of time…eggwhites + either natural PB or raw almond butter w/ some Saigon Cinnamon.
The majority of my meals are consumed while i’m busy, training clients or in transit between the gym and home, so everything needs to be ready ahead of time
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!”
Shoulders & Triceps + Extra Chest & Calves
Overhead D-Bell Press
Incline Skull Crushers
Superset: One Arm Lateral Cable Raises (double drop on last set) w/ Standing Calf Raises
Hammer Strength Shoulder Press
Tricep Pushdown (triple drop on last set)
Superset: Alternate Front D-Bell Raises w/ Push-ups (feet elevated on bench)
Superset: Dips w/ Lateral Raises
BFR: Tricep Rope Pushdown
I did not write Tuesday’s Leg Workout, but I know we Squats, Unilateral Leg Press, York Squat Machine, Calf Raises (seated and standing), leg extensions, leg curls, hyperextensions and hill sprints…that’s all I can remember
Chest & Arms + extra delts
Incline Barbell Press (1 giant triple drop set to failure)
D-Bell Flys on Ball
EZ Bar Curls
Giant Set: Hammer Curls (d-bells), Push-ups w/ feet elevated, Bench Dips
Hammer Strength Decline w/ Band Tension
Superset: Cable Flys w/ Tricep Pushdown
BFR: Tricep Pushdown
Legs & Back
Giant Set: Unilateral H-Squat, HS Kneeling Leg Curl, HS Horizontal Calf Raise
Superset: Abductor & Adductor
Traps Bar Deads: triple drop set on last set
Superset: Underhand Pull-Downs w/ Smith Machine Split Squats
Superset: Standing Calf Raises w/ Pull-ups
Superset: Glute/Ham Raise w/ Seated Calf Raises
Back, Traps, Rear Delts, Biceps
Wide Grip Pronated Seated Cable Row
Close Grip Pull Downs
Alt D-Bell Curls
Superset: Reverse Cable Flys w/ Rope Pull Down
Precor Preacher Curl
Cable Low Row
Blood Flow Restriction (Biceps): EZ Bar Curls
Thought I’d share what I did for my 7am Sunday workout this morning.
The Sunday workout focuses on Delts & Triceps, while throwing in extra work for Calves and Chest
Hammer Strength Shoulder Press using Band Tension (5 or 6 sets…don’t remember)
Giant Set: Lateral Cable Raises, Tricep Pushdowns, Standing Calf Raises
Overhead D-Bell Press
Decline Skull Crushers
Superset Alternate Front Cable Raises w/ Cable Upright Rows
Superset Dips w/ Push-ups (feet elevated)
Blood Flow Restriction for tricep: Tricep Rope Pushdown
Superset Seated Calf Raises w/ Close grip Chest press on Precor Chest Press Machine
Great 2 hour Legs & Back workout today
Superset: Abductor & Adductor
Superset: Lat Pull Downs (close and wide grip) w/ Cable (glute) kickbacks
Giant Set: SLDL, Seated Calf Raises, Glute/Ham Raises
Giant Set: Bear Squat, Pull-ups, Standing Calf Raises
Superset: HS DY Row w/ HS Kneeling Leg Curl
Finished with 5 sets of Prowler
I wanted to share a simple meal idea with everyone…this is what I eat for my 2nd and 3rd meal of the day
5oz Baked Chicken Breast, 6oz Broccoli, 30g Guacamole (from avocado), flavored with Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle, Frank’s Red Hot, Spicy Brown mustard and ground black pepper…easy to prep, tastes delicious!
The meal has about 50g protein, 11g carbs (6 of which are fiber) and 6.5g fat
I also add 5oz sweet potato to my second meal which is directly after my morning hit cardio…this adds about 30g carbs (4 of which are fiber)
The sweet potatoes are just diced up, I add some Saigon Cinnamon and bake them
This is how I prep my chicken ahead of time…I cook 8-12 packages at a time…aluminum foil on the pans and I bake it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes
threw some Mrs Dash on there
Prep your meals ahead of time and you can’t go wrong
Sitting at my kitchen table eating my post-workout special: Oatmeal with pumpkin puree, saigon cinnamon, splenda, nutmeg, ground cloves and whey isolate…Damn Good!
Here was today’s workout:
Barbell Squats: 5 regular Sets + 4 pause sets (drop on the last set) superset with Calf Raises on Leg Press & Seated Calf Raises
Giant Set: H-Squat w/ Band Tension, Prone Leg Curls, Leg Extension
Superset: York Squat Machine w/ Standing Calf Raise
Superset: Hyperextension (Barbell across back) w/ Standing Calf Raises
Blood Flow Restriction Superset: Leg Extension w/ Leg Curls
10 Hill sprints in my front yard
I’ve had people ask me before what I do when I travel in terms of food. The answer is simple: I take everything with me, keep the same meal structure and eat the same exact stuff as when i’m home…just requires some prep.
I went to the beach for a couple days this past weekend, got a place with a kitchen and took all my food and supplements with me
Last year when I traveled 3 times to compete I obviously had to take all my stuff with me
Hotel pics from 2010 (staying in NJ for WNBF Universe in NYC)
Solid Leg Workout today
Squats: 2 warm-up sets, then 5 sets of 12 reps with 315, ending with a double drop set on the 5th set
Giant Sets: Unilateral H-Squat, HS Kneeling Leg Curl, HS Calf Raises (5 sets)
Giant Sets: Leg Extension, Prone Leg Curl, HS Calf Raises (5 sets)
Superset York Squat Machine w/ Standing Calf Raise (4 sets)
Weighted Hyperextension: 3 x 12 with barbell across back
10 Hill Sprints
I have mentioned a couple times that i’ve been incorporating Band tension into my workouts, so here are a few videos from today’s workout demonstrating use of band tensions with 3 different leg exercises:
Today kept it simple
Trap bar Deadlifts: 10 sets of 10 w/ 405 lbs
10 sets of Standing Calf Raises supersetted w/ 10 sets of pull-ups (varying grips)
10 sets of Prowler
6 Hill Sprints in my front yard
Doesn’t look that bad written down, but it was a good one
Inspired by all the reading i’ve been doing about Navy Seal training (currently reading The Warrior Elite by Dick Couch) I decided we needed to step it up today revert to some old-school methods of building a bigger chest: LOTS OF PUSH-UPS!!!
Over the course of a 100 minute Chest & Arm workout I did 559 push-ups with my feet elevated on a bench
Started the workout off with a quadruple drop set on incline smith machine
then 120 push-ups w/ feet elevated
followed by 4 sets D-Bell Flys on the swiss ball
then 120 push-ups w/ feet elevated
followed by numerous sets of Alt D-Bell Curls, with the last set being a triple drop set
then 100 push-ups w/ feet elevated
followed by Cable Flys supersetted with Dips (4 sets each)
then 117 push-ups w/ feet elevated
followed by lying cable curls supersetted w/ Tricep Rope pushdowns (5 sets)
Decline skull crushers (3 sets)
then 102 push-ups w/ feet elevated
Well, it’s been forever since I posted anything on here so I figured i’d share some things that i’m doing.
First off, had a killer leg workout today:
Started with leg press: 2plates x10,4platesx20,6platesx30, 8platesx40,10platesx50, 12plates x 60
that seemed to get some blood in my legs…then onto squats: 6 sets total, 2 regular, 4 pause sets
then supersetted prone leg curl with calf raises
then supersetted H-Squat: 6plates + 350 lbs band tension, focus on eccentric
then supersetted leg ext with calf raises (seated and HS horizontal)
then supersetted seated leg curl with calf raises (seated and HS horizontal)
then supersetted Weighted Hyperextensions with Barbell Step-ups
finished the workout off with 10 hill sprints
Last week I had a great chest & arm workout which started with a mega drop set on incline d-bell press: 100′s x max down to 80′s down to 60′s down to 40′s
then a huge drop set on alt d-bell curls starting with the 75′s
then 100 reps of 100 per side on cable flys
182 push-ups with feet elevated
lying cable curls
around 140 dips
tricep pushdown 100 lbs x 100 reps
band resistance on hammer strength
some other stuff for arms…can’t remember what all we did
So my good friend Brian Whitacre attended Layne N orton’s Camp as a presenter…came back with a lot of valuable info that has made both us rethink parts of our approach.
Part of this has to do with the approach to cardio. In short, whereas I was doing a good amount of steady state cardio on both the elliptical and treadmill, I am shifting towards intervals on both the bike and stepmill. HIIT cardio which offers greater intensity, resistance and elevates the heart rate far faster, more closely mimics the type of conditioning and range of motion in resistance training. It conditions the muscles for recruitment of fast twitch rather than slow twitch fibers and appears to be more muscle sparing. The studies presented showed a significant difference in preservation of strength, lean mass and power capacity in favor of cardio done interval style with intensity and higher resistance. Cycling also seems to be favorable over other forms of steady state cardio for preservation of strength and size.
So far, i’m liking the change.
I should add that I have always been an advocate of HIIT cardio, but I never incorporated it more than twice a week (not including my post leg workout sprints and prowler)…I am now moving towards all cardio being a form of HIIT
One of the other key points, was the benefits of HMB as a supplement for preservation of strength and lean mass, especially under conditions of caloric deficit.
I will try to post the link to some of the studies referenced.
The only other new thing i’ve played around with this off-season to shock the muscle in a different way is the introduction of band tension. I purchased 3 sets of bands (a pair of 65′s, 100′s and 175′s) I have used these with quite a few different exercises, but really like focus on eccentric stress to produce greater muscle damage on squats and hammer strength pressing movements…I have used them on about any exercise I possibly can.
Well, that about wraps it up for now. If anyone has questions, fire away
Barbell Pause Squats: 315×5,365×5,385×5,405×4
Regular Squats: 315×15,225×20
Hack Squats: 2plx10,4plx10,6plx10,8plx10,8plx10,6plx20
Prone Leg Curl: 190×10,190×7,175×8,160×10
Calf Raises on BM Leg Press: Stack x 20,15,15,15,12
Leg Extension: 250×15,12,12
Hyperextension w/ Barbell: 12,12
Medium Grip Pull Downs: 160×12,200×12,240×12,280×12,300×8 drop:240×15>200×8>160×8
Standing Barbell Military Press: 110×12,130×12,150×5,130×8,110×12
T-Bar Rows:4plx12,5plx12,6plx7,6plx6 drop:5plx12>4plx8>3plx8
Overhead D-Bell Press: 80′sx17,12,7
Underhand Pull Downs: 220×12,250×10,260×8,260×6,220×10
One Arm Lateral Cable Raises: 60×12,70×8,60×12 drop: 60×12>50×10>40×10
Precor Rear Delt: 175×12,190×8,190×8,175×10
Cable Upright Rows: 150×12,180×12,200×8 drop: 160×12>120×10>90×10
Tricep Rope Pushdown: 75 x 20,16 drop: 75×15>60×8>45×10>30×12
Alt D-Bell Curls: 65′s x7,6 drop: 60′s x6>45′sx5>30′sx6
Well, it’s time for another off-season update. I’ve been following my old faithful 4 day split:
Monday: Shoulders & Back + occlusion for triceps & biceps
Tuesday: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves + occlusion for quads and hamstrings
Thursday: Chest, Triceps & Biceps + occlusion for triceps & biceps
Friday: Backs (upper and lower), Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves
While i’m only doing weight training 4 days a week, i’ve been doing cardio up to 6-7 days a week (30 minutes at a time) + throwing abs/core in 3-4 days per week outside my main workouts. Now that spring is upon us, the outdoor work begins…fired up the lawnmower this weekend (rain prevented me from finishing my task) + did some weeding
In the last couple of months, I feel that training has been going quite well and i’ve been firing on all cylinders. Been weighing around 218-220 lbs in the morning. I have implemented a couple of things in the last few weeks to shock my body into growth. The first is 100 rep totals on exercises. Do your warm-ups sets and choose a weight to do all your sets with…continue doing sets until you hit 100 reps total.
a few weeks ago, I did this on incline D-bell press for chest with the 100 lb d-bells…last week on my tuesday leg workout I did it on squats w/ 315 lbs…then later in the week did 100 reps on SLDL with 315. You take the equivalent volume of GVT and add the element of time (performing the same number of reps in as few sets as possible). We had another chest workout where we did 100 reps w/ 3 plates per side on HS Chest Press and then 100 reps w/ 100 lbs per side on cable flys…BTW, if you get to 100 but your workout partner hasn’t yet, you keep going until he/she finished, so sometimes you end up doing more than 100…i think i ended up doing 120 reps on seated lateral d-bell raises with the 30′s on a shoulder workout.
In addition to the 100′s (which we don’t do every workout), i have also added the occlusion training for triceps, biceps, quads and hamstrings back in the last 3 weeks…I always feel I get a nice response in terms of strength and muscle fullness when I perform occlusion training.
The Fitness Challenge to raise money for the humane society is coming up on April 21st:
the last time I promoted this event, I did trap bar deadlifts with 405 lbs:
and 850 lb tire flip:
with the event right around the corner, i’ve had to decide what i’ll do to raise money this year. Friday, I finally had a decent show of strength on Trap bar deads friday at 500 lbs, so i’m considering doing this:
I will likely also do Barbell Pause Squats w/ 315 lbs:
So those are my numbers to beat.
Friday I had the opportunity to use a Prowler…Been itching to use this thing for awhile now…F***ing awesome!!! Absolutely Brutal!!! This was exhausting (done after 4 heavy sets of deads)
I will definitely be incorporating this tool in my training on friday’s on a regular basis…great for conditioning
That’s about all there is to report at this point.
In Memory of Taylor
November 26th, 2000 – March 7th, 2012
Last week I was faced with one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do…I had to say goodbye to Taylor, my 11+ year old female Rottweiler. Taylor has been my loyal companion for over eight years. I adopted her from Northeast Rottweiler Rescue (www.rottrescue.org) in October of 2003, a little over a month before she turned three years old. I was living and working at an all-boys private prep school in New York, called Trinity-Pawling…I lived by myself in an apartment on campus and I was financially independent. While I have lived with dogs my entire life, Taylor was the first dog I ever owned. Having a dog is no different than having a kid…you have another being who is dependent upon you to provide food, shelter, care, mental and physical stimulation, and love. With this newfound responsibility comes a new sense of purpose.
Over the last eight years Taylor was a beacon of consistency in my otherwise transient life. Through a move from New York to Virginia, a career change, occupation of numerous homes and involvement in different relationships, one thing always remained the same…Taylor was always at my side as my loyal companion.
We all have days when life seems hard and we stop to question our purpose or direction. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that keep us going…Every day, seeing me when I got home was the most exciting part of Taylor’s day. I always reminded myself of this. Life gets busy…but for a dog it’s very simple…they can’t wait until you get home, because you’re all they have! They always look to you for love, affection and attention. No matter how busy I ever was, I always stopped to recognize Taylor and what she meant to me when I got home. I knew that Taylor wouldn’t live forever and I wanted to always make her know how much I loved her and how much I appreciated her in my life. It takes very little to make a dog happy and they offer so much in return for your love and affection. When everything else in life sucks, a dog can still bring a smile to your face.
In the first few years I had Taylor, she used to suffer very bad separation anxiety when I left for more than a day or two. My parents would take care of her while I was gone and she would go to the window every time a car passed, thinking and hoping it was mine. When I finally did get home, she was beyond happy to see me…pretty good feeling to get that kind of welcome from someone.
Some of the things I will always remember about Taylor:
Taylor loved to go for rides…this was about equal to biscuits! If you left the car door open, she would jump in, thinking she was going somewhere, even if you had just returned home. In the last couple of years Taylor was alive, I had to lift her up into my truck, because she was no longer able to jump up.
Taylor on her 10th Birthday
Taylor liked to demand biscuits…certain times of day (before bed, after she had gone outside), she felt she was entitled to treats. She would let you know with her intense stare in conjunction with her woofing at you. If you didn’t give in, she’d start to throw a fit, stomping her feet, pointing at the biscuit jar, looking back at you and then woofing louder. Taylor tried to use her Jedi mind tricks to persuade people into giving her treats…it usually worked!
I will never forget Taylor’s smile! Taylor had the best smile!
When Taylor wanted affection, she would bury and rub her giant head into you and practically knock you over.
Taylor’s favorite place was the front deck…she could see and hear everything and she enjoyed being outside, taking it all in, feeling the breeze, watching the birds, picking up the different smells in the air.
Taylor was always a stop to smell the flowers type of girl…she loved being outside and just had an appreciation for life and everything that was going on around her.
Over the years, Taylor had several playmates. ..it was fun to watch her goofy personality as she got to play with other dogs, including some she lived with.
Taylor was a couch potato!
Taylor liked water, but only if she could touch the ground with her feet
In the end Taylor still had the same exuberant look in her eye. She was still coherent and attentive. Unfortunately, she outlived her body. Her hips deteriorated in the last couple of years leading to instability at times when she walked. An injury to her foot, trying to stand made her limp with her front right leg. Having only one strong limb led to a secondary injury to her shoulder (x-ray could not confirm what the exact issue was), no longer allowing her to compensate with the front legs. This left her immobile for the last eight days she was alive. I did everything I could to help her overcome this. We tried laser treatment therapy on the shoulder…I carried her to my truck numerous times to take her to the vet in the hopes that I could get her to walk again. I tried to assist her in standing by using a towel under her ribcage and having someone else support her back end. Not only was Taylor unresponsive to the laser treatment therapy, but days of immobility were causing her back end to further atrophy. Even if she could overcome the shoulder issue, her hips were too weak to support her body weight. She was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, even taking pain medication twice a day. On Saturday, March 3rd, I came to the realization that I would have to say goodbye to my little girl. The thought of losing her tore me apart, but I couldn’t watch her suffer any more. Taylor was always so full of life…this was no way for her to live. I know she felt trapped in a body that didn’t work anymore. She needed to be set free.
From that point, knowing I only had a few days left with Taylor, I did everything I could to make her comfortable and happy. I wanted Taylor to leave feeling loved. I wanted her last days to be peaceful. Wednesday, March 7th was Taylor’s final day. I made sure to spend extra time with her. It was absolutely gorgeous outside, so I pulled her bed (with her on it) out onto the front deck, so she could enjoy her favorite place one more time. In the final days Taylor was visited by several people who knew and loved her. Wednesday evening Dr. Jones of Blacksburg Animal Clinic came to the house to set Taylor free. I insisted this was done at home. I wanted Taylor’s final moments to be at home being held by me, surrounded by love in an environment she was familiar with that would leave her with happy memories and thoughts. As I watched her take her final breaths, I cried my eyes out. It was very hard for me, but I knew it had to be done and I was able to ensure that Taylor had a good last day.
Taylor’s condition deteriorated very quickly in the last two weeks of her life. While I wasn’t prepared to lose her, I know it was somewhat of a blessing…she lived life to the fullest up to the end. I did not drag things out and let her suffer. While it was extremely hard for me to let her go, I know that I was able to give her a good life. It’s hard for me to put into words what Taylor meant to me…the simplest way to put it is for those who saw the smile she brought to my face while she was alive and for those who saw the tears from my eyes at the end, you know.
Taylor will always have a place in my heart and I will cherish the memories of when she was still with me. Her spirit is free and she has found a new home amongst others who have passed before her (Maverick, Addie, Schultz, Wolfy). She’s probably demanding biscuits from a greater power with her Jedi Mind tricks, woofing and foot stomping…hopefully she’s going for rides and playing with old friends. I can only hope that someday I get to see her again. There will never be another Taylor. I love my little girl and I miss her!