Archive for June, 2013

2013 contest cut – week 2

Posted: June 28, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

Since I planned to add complex carbs back into my diet as well as creatine I sort of expected to stay about the same weight in week 2 or maybe even go up a little… In the end I actually lost a few pounds.


The second week of my cut, I returned to a standard hypertrophy style training protocol but focusing mainly on traps and delts. I did about 3 days of core work, which is preparatory for the ab work I’ll be doing in the future


The nutrition plan is a very basic 3:1 calorie cycling program, 3 days at 85% maintenance then 1 day at 105%.


  • multivitamin
  • magnesium
  • creatine

    Week 2 I wound up losing a few pounds of fat while adding back a the lean mass/water weight I lost during the detox, so my result was quite favorable.

    2013 contest cut – week 1

    Posted: June 27, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

    To be honest I wasn’t even planning to cut this year, I wanted to spend all of 2013 getting bigger, but I guess the idea of getting rid of my gut was appealing as this year’s BFFM contest came up.

    Unlike my normal blogs such as…

  • Building a superman physique
  • The pre-date pump up part 1 and part 2
  • Which are meant to be as much about entertainment as they are about education, this series of blogs will be focused on every aspect of my diet, training and supplementation protocol as I attempt to place better than I ever have in this competition.

    I am currently in week 3, so I’ve got a little catching up to do!

    I came into this thing with a plan, so here it is…

    I only had a few days notice before the start, so I took that time to rest from training and cycle off of creatine.

    This contest also includes group contests, so I made sure to join up with a motivated team.

    Once I took my “before” pics, the game was on!

    I immediately jumped into a week-long detox diet coupled with an Anatomical Adaptation training program.

    This was to serve many functions:

  • flush my system
  • help my hormone secreting organs function better
  • strengthen my stabilizing muscles
  • improve my flexibility and balance.
  • The result of this week as a loss of over 6lbs, which is pretty standard for the first week of a cut. Week 2 was even MORE impressive…

    I’m sure you’ve seen a sickening number of physical transformation pictures on the internet with their claims about putting on stupid amounts of muscle mass, below is a picture I found on Google of a guy who claimed to put on 30lbs of muscle on a program…


    Now there is no question he has improved his physique, and if those numbers are accurate, good on him, but take a look at this comparison of me as a teenager compared to how I looked after a few years of training:
    98_12 comp
    Based on the numbers given in the previous before-after pics you might be surprised to learn the difference in weight here is only 10lbs.

    My point? Instead of focussing on the numbers on the scale, learn the correct principles of hypertrophy to make the most out of the mass you have!

    related: Man of Steel: Building a physique like Henry Cavill’s Superman

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    I previously wrote a review on Hypertrophy MAX, in which I discussed the specifics of the first 3 phases of that program. Unlike the phony reviews out there that are in kahoots with the program creators I provided what I believe to be an honest and fair review of what is basically a run-of-the-mill program with a steep pricetag.

    That being said, I have a lot of respect for Ben Pakulski, however just as many trainers and coaches I’ve worked with are dead set against periodization as those who are in favor of it, so which is the best method?

    Periodization refers to changing up your training modality regularily and progressively to achieve a specific goal. For example you may start with Anatomical Adaptation, move to hypertrophy, then endurance, then to strength and then to a sport-specific modality. The idea here is that you alter the program frequently enough that you do not plateau and stop seeing results.

    The alternative to this form of training would be to “sprinkle in” as one of my coaches said, strength and endurance within a primarily hypertrophy-based program. This philosophy would suggest that you focus year-round on your primary goal while doing other modalities just often enough to maintain strength in those areas as well as creating sufficient variety to avoid boredom.

    So which of these is more effective?

    The answer is probably specific to the individual, but personally I’ve obtained vastly superior results following the second method — training primarily for hypertrophy year-round while adding in a small amount of strength, endurance and flexibility throughout.  That being said, I think it can be effective to “periodize” your diet.

    By changing up your caloric intake or macronutrient ratio, you also change up how your body responds to the physical work you put it through… it can also be very enlightening.

    Go forth and triumph!!!

    Man of Steel Cannon Ball Shoulders

    Posted: June 17, 2013 in fitness, fun


    As with my “super drops” Chest routine article, this shoulder routine is designed to be worked into the  help bring up the Building a physique like Henry Cavill’s Superman program…

    Delts are a small muscle group, so they can be trained more frequently than chest, they also tend to respond best to high volume and constant tension.  The danger is that if you overwork it without proper warmups, stretching, etc, you can injure the joint pretty easily.

    Shoulders have always been a point of weakness for me, so I put a lot of work into trying to find the best way to get them to respond, so the following program is based on my findings:


    Step 1: Warmup!! – do at least 5-10 minutes of DYNAMIC warming up of your shoulders.  I usually do giant sets of light weight shoulder exercises such as incline DB presses, 3-way delt raises, incline rotator cuff extensions, etc.

    Step 2: CNS Activation – to begin this workout we want to activate the brain so that muscles are fired efficiently and effectively

    • DB Press Pyramid – 6 sets pyramiding from 10-12 reps down to 4-5 reps. On the last set, use SUPER DROPS (as discussed in the chest routine), doing two drops of 25%. rest 2-3 min between sets (except of course the drops at the end).

    Step 3: Volumize!

    • Dumbbell side laterals – 4 sets x 8 *PARTIAL* reps, negatives at the end of each set, 1 min rest between sets – The partial rep is to accommodate the constant tension, if you lower the weight too far you relieve tension, so go as low as possible while maintaining tension on the shoulder. To perform the negative, you basically perform a hammer curl to bring the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, then extend your elbows out. Now straighten your elbows until you are essentially in the top position of a lateral raise, then lower as slowly as you can.
    • Lying dumbbell side laterals – 4 sets x 8 reps – This is to work the lower part of the range of motion.
    • Bent Dumbbell lateral raise w/external rotation – 4 sets of 12 reps superset with:
    • Incline dumbbell front raise

    Step 4: Stretch! – Hang from a chin-up bar for 20-30 seconds letting your shoulders stretch as much as possible. Not only will this help the recovery process, but will also help avoid injury.

    This routine is very similar to the Alpha workout I posted previously, which includes traps into the same workout.

    If you are overloading your shoulders by working them out I suggest alternating the angles and moves every workout so the joint doesn’t get worn down too much. For example, you could switch out the DB presses with Arnold presses; You can also switch out dumbbells for cables to change the wear pattern. I would also strongly suggest making one of your sessions focussed on flexibility.

    Additionally, adding in a joint supplement is a good idea when training shoulders frequently.  Certainly use MSM, or you can be more aggressive and use a mega joint supplement such as Animal Flex.

    In terms of progression, since high volume is the key focus on increasing by a rep or two before moving up in weight.

    Good luck, may your guns blaze and delts blast!

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    Super Hero Physique
    superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

    Superman Begins: Man of Steel review

    Posted: June 14, 2013 in fun

    I have made a few blogs about training to achieve a physique like Henry Cavil in Man of steel, now a film review:


    I was lucky enough to attend an advanced screening of Man of Steel, and my biggest worry was that it would not live up to expectations. To be honest I think I’ll have to see it again to properly gauge how it matched my anticipation.

    It is a very fun film, and it is also very much a science-fiction film, which we should probably expect, but coming from the creative team who worked to hard to make Batman grounded in reality, this one does not try to hide its fantasy elements.

    The film opens on Krypton as Kal-El is born to Jor-El and Lara. Shortly after Jor-El is appealing to the Krypton elders to evacuate their dying planet. Supposedly they have exhausted their planets natural resources, and as a result the planet itself will implode.

    In the midst of this, General Zod is attempting a coup to overthrow the elders and preserve the Kryptonian future in his own way. This leads to a confrontation between Zod and Jor-El as he is in the process of evacuating his son — which brings up my first couple of problems with the movie:

    Jor-El swims through this lake of embryos to get something called the “codex” which is what Zod plans to use to rebuild the Kryptonian race… the thing is, if this was so vital to Zod’s plan, and so easy to obtain it’s a bit of a stretch to think that Krypton’s greatest tactical leader would not have the foresight to secure it before barging in on the council.

    As Kal-El’s parents are putting him into the space pod the dialogue between Jor-El and Lara is eerily similar to the conversation in Superman: the movie. Since they were trying so hard to set this movie apart from the previous series, I was a bit disappointed in this choice.

    Next, as Jor-El is evacuating Kal-El, he reveals that Kal is the first natural birth in centuries, which sends Zod in to a rage, screaming “Heresy!”. Now to be fair, this might just be an under developed plot point, but there are issues here… first of all it is unclear if this has been done with the blessing of the elders or not. The elders are clearly against evacuating the planet, so they are probably not wise to Jor-El sending his son away. So this suggests that Jor-El is rebelling against the council, which seems to be exactly what makes Zod a villain. Furthermore, if it is such heresy on Krypton to have a natural birth that would mean that Lara would have to have hid her pregnancy for nine months, which alone seems a bit of a stretch.

    Moments after Kal-El is shipped off, General Zod is captured by Krypton authorities, tried and shipped to the phantom zone… now this had me scratching my head at the time.  These guys have the resources and ability to ship these criminals to safety yet they will not evacuate their law-abiding citizens somewhere safe?

    The story flashes forward to Clark Kent’s adult life, where he is on what I believe is a crab fishing boat. It actually only took a couple of minutes for them to stick a big fat flaw in… Clark is in the path of a falling crab cage, when one of his fellow fishermen dives at him football style knocking him out of the way to “safety”. You cannot knock down the man of steel! in fact not long after this, a gruff trucker tries to hit Clark and bounces off of him… moving on…

    Adult Clark moves from place to place while we get glimpses of his childhood where he struggles with being different and having to keep his abilities secret for mankind’s own good. It is very similar in structure to Batman Begins, but that worked well for Batman, so you can’t really fault them for trying this format with Superman… mind you if they make Green Lantern begins I’ll be livid.

    Clark (who is calling himself Joe) crosses paths with Lois Lane at a military site where they have discovered something very curious… why the military decides to indulge top-secret information to a reporter is beyond me, but feels a little bit like shameless exposition.

    Now I’ll be honest, I’m a bit confused by what follows but maybe I just need to see it again. I believe this anomaly that the military found was a scout ship that was sent to Earth by Jor-El in advance of sending Kal-El — I’m not totally sure about what it is doing on the other side of the planet from where they sent him nor how Clark even found it, but hopefully in time I’ll understand that bit too.

    Anyway, this is a ship that Clark flies away in to be instructed by Jor-El and be given his Krytonian garb… which is really cool, except that the first few times we see him, the low-cut top makes his upper-chest hair look like an escaping spider the first few times we see him. It was pretty distracting on an Imax screen.

    The final third of the movie is just balls-to-the wall action… and this is where the movie really comes into its own.  It was nice to see Krypton foes mercilessly bashing the crap out of one another. And unlike Superman II, Superman wasn’t preoccupied with saving all the citizens from falling debris, which was a welcomed change, instead he was beating and being beaten on an epic level.

    I really think the measure of how good this film is will be the sequel. Can Man of Steel improve on itself the way the Dark Knight series did? I think the potential is definitely there!


    Super Hero Physique
    superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

    Building an enviable chest is something most men including myself seek after. What I’ve come to discover is that every body part responds best to different training methodologies, and with chest it is as much to do with HOW you train as WHAT movements you perform.

    With chest it is about separating the pectoral muscles from the body. This can be done by focusing largely on the squeezing function of the pecs as well as using decline presses to build the lower pecs.

    As an aside, keeping lean will also help create the illusion of a bigger chest.


    Warmups: warming up the rotator cuffs is an ideal way to make sure you avoid injury as well as strengthening one of the primary groups responsible for stabalizing bench press work.

    While on my quest I discovered a method of pec training that seems to have yielded remarkable results in a short span of time. Those who follow my blog know that I’m very much into natural hormone manipulation and optimization, so the workout is designed to this in a few ways…

    First we’ll activate the CNS as well as sparking testosterone using the compound exercise that will best help with the muscular separation I mentioned…

    • Decline barbell bench press – pyramid training pattern; set 1 = 10 reps rest 60 sec; set 2 = 8 reps rest 90 sec; set 3 = 6 reps rest 2 min; set 4 = 4 reps rest 3 min; set 5 = 4 reps. *performance notes:make sure to contract the pecs BEFORE pushing to ensure they are fully engaged. Keep shoulders retracted and abs tight to help optimize the movement.

    Second is to focus on pure hypertrophy using a variation of dumbbell pressing that will help create outer separation as well as building overall chest fullness…

    • Incline Dumbbell press, palms facing in – 4 sets of 8 reps *performance notes: at the bottom of the movement retract shoulders and tighten abs (I realize this might sound counter intuitive), have your forearms slightly wider than perpendicular to the floor.  When pressing up move your forearms up and in so that the dumbbells tough each other at the top, and squeeze your pecs. Try to maintain that contraction as you slowly lower the weights to the starting position.

    Finally we finish with the previously mentioned movemtn that will blast testosterone and GH as well as IGF-1, setting you up for big time growth! This utilizes what I’ve decided to call “SUPER DROPS”.  Generally when doing drops sets they take place at the end of a series of work sets and are usually about 15% drops in weight and fewer reps. Here we are going to drop the weight more — 25% — and increase the number of reps, thus increasing the time under tension even greater and allowing for maximal hypertrophy as well as GH release. Your muscles should be burning after a couple sets of these!

    • Flat machine press, 2-3 SUPER DROPS! – 6-8-10 reps. *how to perform super drops: the first set is relatively heavy, so you perform 6 reps, immediately drop the weight by 25% and aim for 8 reps, drop the weight again by 25% and shoot for 10 reps. Rest for 90 seconds then repeat. **the first drop may need to be more than 25%, however by the second drop you should be at 50% of the original weight.

    Depending on your training split, the end of this workout may be a good time to add in some “finishers” by doing a couple sets of triceps or shoulder movements. One of my favorites is a couple of sets of dips as they employ all of these parts.

    The great thing about the routine above is it is an easy paradigm to adapt. For example, when you are overloading the chest with 2 chest workouts in a week you can alternate the order that you use the various angles, ie. start by using heavy incline presses, move to flat dumbbell presses and finish with decline super drops. Rotating this way will help avoid excess wear on the shoulder joint.


    As mentioned in the original Man of Steel Blog The goal here is to keep as lean as possible while allowing for the greatest growth… to be honest it’s no easy task, but I’ve come up with a few tricks that will serve you well as they have me.

    • have 5-7 small meals throughout the day
    • have protein with each meal (try to vary the sources as much as possible)
    • have vegetables with each meal
    • include complex carbohydrates with one or two meals AFTER exercising
    • include a healthy fat source with non-carb-containing meals.

    Good luck, may your pecs take flight!

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    Superhero Physique
    superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

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