Archive for August, 2013

2013 contest cut – week 11

Posted: August 28, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

I feel like I’ve been at a sticking point, trying to improve but not making as much progress a I feel I should be.

One of my challenges this summer is that the weeks that my kids are with me it becomes difficult to go to the gym, so I finally overcame that this week by purchasing a home gym. It was a $900 gamble that I hope will pay off.

In the end I did shed one pound this week (bringing my total to 21 lbs of fat loss), and began my shaving and tanning regime… but I need to be losing fat a little quicker so I’m cutting whey out of my diet as well as flavored BCAAs opting for unflavored capsules.


photoshoot_July_2012

I’ve gone through the whole bulk & cut routine a few times now, and each time it seems that getting those final pounds off becomes more and more difficult.

It could be my age or the constant shifting of body mass, or it could be perhaps that my heart is two sizes too small.

No matter the reason, my glands or my heart;
It’s for certain those last pounds are the toughest damned part!

Okay, enough Dr. Seuss, here are some of the things I’ve found to be most effective for getting shredded. As a rule of thumb you might consider addressing each in the order I’ve laid out here as well…

  1. Rest & re-feed & cycle off stimulants
  2. When dieting for extended periods of time, especially when training intensely anabolic hormones and adrenal glands start to become fatigued and fat burning slows to a crawl. Strategic rest periods can help right the situation.

    Muscles won’t begin to atrophy for a good three weeks, so taking a week with little-to-no intense exercising will not hurt your past gains.

  3. Gut health
  4. Having a healthy gut means nutrients are absorbed better, organs function better therefore your overall metabolism and health will be vastly improved. This can be accomplished by adding a high quality probiotic and large doses (20-30 grams) of glutamine to your diet.

  5. Control Insulin
  6. This generally implies first removing any sugars from your diet, and replacing them with complex carbohydrates, and possibly even replacing the majority of carbohydrates with vegetables.

    Additionally, this can be assisted by the inclusion of chromium, R-ALA and cinnamon.

  7. Fat utilization
  8. We want to encourage the body to use fat as fuel and not carbohydrates/glycogen or protein/muscle.

    Hopefully by this point you are already in a caloric deficit, and preferably even calorie/carb cycling.

    Make sure to have protein every 2-3 hours. This will not only help keep your metabolism high, but help prevent muscle loss.

    Consume more fatty acids, such as fish oil instead of carbs especially for the first and last meals of the day. EFAs are known for being anti-inflamitory, supporting testosterone (not to mention mobilizing testosterone supporting vitamins) as well as positively affecting neurotransmitters. But also if you have more fat in your diet it encourages your body to use fat tissue as a fuel source.

    Make as many meals as possible whole foods and not liquid meals. Not only is this more nutritious, but also burns more calories.

    Double your water intake. Again, this will help your body as a whole function more effectively.

    CLA and L-Carnitine L-tartrate can be an effective supplement combination to help encourage the body to burn fat for fuel, especially pre-workout.

    Another sneaky way to force your body to burn fat is by manipulating your body temperature by having cold showers. This isn’t a lot of fun, but at this point every little bit helps!

  9. Boost Growth hormone
  10. This powerful hormone has an impact on muscle gains as well as fat burning, which has made it very sexy, and also led many people to abuse it.

    It can be optimized naturally, and that begins with avoiding carbohydrates at times when you want to raise it, ie. pre-workout. It is also stimulated by highly intense workouts… understand that intense can have different applications, it can mean momentary intensity which is stimulated with heavy weights, or by cumulative intensity which is related to the “burn” you get when doing more repetitions with high reps and short rest periods.

    Personally I like to hit intensity on every facet when training to shred, so I will often super-set heavy weights with a lighter weight for the antagonist muscle, ie. Heavy bench press super-setted with moderate weight barbell rows. **this method may also help to build testosterone.

  11. Reduce Cortisol
  12. An excess of cortisol often presents itself in the form of love handles and can be tricky to deal with.

    Cortisol is triggered by both mental and physical stress (including exercise).

    Reducing stress begins internally, by adopting a happier attitude. It can also be assisted by increasing magnesium, high doses of vitamin C, and phosphatydlyserine.

    When it comes to training you’ll want to strive to keep the intensity high, while keeping the volume low. I’m not referring to extremes here, just realize that cortisol levels continue to rise after long durations of training and requires rest time to normalize.

  13. Control Estrogen
  14. Estrogen is a killer when it comes to the final pounds of fat. Controlling it has to come from both outside as well as inside.

    For starters, switch to shampoos/bodywash/sunscreen that DO NOT have ingredients ending in “sulfate” or “paraben”.

    Certain foods can also boost estrogen, such as soy-based products. So cut these foods out and eat lots of foods that are anti-estrogenic like broccoli and other green vegetables.

    In addition, if you think this is an issue, consider supplementing with DIM and Calcium D-glucarate (both of which are found in broccoli btw but in smaller doses).

    Increasing your overall fiber intake may help with this as well. The best way I find to do this is simply by consuming more vegetables, and even a greens supplement.

  15. Stimulants
  16. Moderate use of stimulants can help raise your metabolism as well as give you that “buzz” that gets you off your butt and burning more calories. However as mentioned in many places within this blog, you should be careful not to become dependent on them as they will take a toll on your adrenals and eventually shut down your ability to burn fat altogether.

  17. Hypothyroidism
  18. This refers to when the thyroid is under-active and therefore slowing down your entire metabolism. This can be caused by adrenal fatigue, as well as being on a restricted carbohydrate diet for too long.

    Symptoms include: fatigue, exhaustion, depression/moodiness, pains and aches, low sex drive, fuzzy thinking/drowsiness and constipation.

    The first thing to do if you suspect this is the case would be to have a carb re-feed day if you are in a restricted carbohydrate diet.

    If it continues to be an issue, try upping Vitamin D, B vitamins zinc and magnesium. If you think it is serious that goes beyond the scope of this blog and you may need medical assistance… but I’m guessing if you are down to the last few pounds it is nothing the suggestions above won’t resolve.

Bonus Tip: By this point in the game you are probably taking a crap load of vitamins and supplements. I’ve found my best results come by creating an excel table that breaks down what I will take at the following times:

  • After rising
  • Pre-workout
  • Post-workout
  • Mid-afternoon
  • pre-bed
  • Then I have separate pill dispensers to organize pills for the week.

    I print out the excel table and put it on my fridge and update it every week based on my needs and my results.

    If getting ripped were easy everyone would have a six-pack, but it can be done!

    Related: Stubborn fat Part 1; Stubborn fat Part 2; Stubborn fat Part3; 5 factors of Fat loss


    SuperHero Physique
    superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

    idiot
    As with Part 1, I’ve been experimenting with some uncommon ways of training and they’ve a had very profound impact on my results…

    TIP 1: Use a Mouth Guard

    This is one that I use from time to time when I’m lifting insanely heavy. The ability to clamp down my teeth sometimes gives me the extra thrust I need.

    TIP 2: Lockout Laterals

    Press against the bars on a power rack at the top position of a dumbbell lateral raise. The trick with this is to mentally focus on shoving up with your delts ant not your arms.

    TIP 3: Occlusion Training

    This is a great way to train the muscles hard without training them heavy (which is great news for your joints!), and has been the subject of several university studies. The results of those studies have been overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a workout I created that incorporates this type of training.

    TIP 4: Counter Intuitive Training!

    This is something I do in a few different ways…

    When doing crunches, use a decline bench and sit upright at a 45 degree angle. The normal thought is to rotate the hip upwards while contracting, but try doing the opposite, rotating it slightly DOWN while contracting and exhaling. While contracting visualize your bellybutton going in so far it touches your spine. Hold this contracted position for a couple seconds while holding your breath, then extend your spine while slightly rotating your hips upward.

    Another way I use counter intuitive training is by using machines in the opposite starting position as intended. This works your muscles at slightly different angles. For example, for machine bench press put head where butt would normally be, or for a machine shoulder press face the back support. Reverse hack squats are one of the best ways I’ve found to obliterate my quads.

    TIP 5: Use Smaller Plates on DEADLIFTS

    When possible try to use more 25lb plates instead of fewer 45lb plates. This will extend your range of motion by a few inches. You can also perform deficit deadlifts to accomplish a similar effect by standing on a raised platform.

    TIP 6: Power Strips

    These also appear in my hormonal blast workout. It is an idea I came across when re-reading the Poliquin Principles. I have a feeling it is either not the most effective method around, or possibly too taxing to be used frequently since it has not really been used by many people since that book was published. So I usually reserve this for when I need a change from the norm. Because it focuses both on momentary as well as accumulated fatigue, it should provide a surge of growth hormone and testosterone most training methods won’t.

    The idea is you do 1 rep at your maximum capacity, then drop the weight by 5-10% and do 1 rep, then continue droping until you’ve done 8-10 sets of 1 rep. By the time you’ve finished all the reps in this set you’ll have a new meaning of the word exhaustion.

    TIP 7: Finish with Compound Movements

    This is another plateau buster. Normally I prefer to start with compound movements as it activates the CNS, but this can be really effective, especially with muscle groups that are harder to “feel” like back.

    TIP 8: Intelligent use of Music

    In the part 1 I suggested unplugging music to become “one with the weights”; since that time I’ve continued my study of the affect on training and music and found some interesting information. It seems that the most effective music to have is music that creates arousal. The thing is this is different from person-to-person, so when picking out your tunes you should aim for something that helps create a state of mental arousal.

    I will probably go more in depth on this in future blogs.

    TIP 9: Manipulate Calf Position for Hamstring Movements

    The calves can play a role in how well you recruit your hamstrings, so pay close attention to them. When doing stiff-leg deadlifts you can elevate your toes on a 5 or 10 pound plate. When doing lying leg curls try keeping your toes pointed for the whole movement.

    TIP 10: Increase Grip Strength

    This can be done by squeezing barbell clamps in between sets, or by using towel hangs at the end of a workout.

    That sums up part 2. As I said in the first part, “Give these a try, especially one that sounds really weird to you… you might just be [pleasantly] surprised with the outcome!”

    Related Articles:
    10 Unconventional training tips that give massive results

    2013 contest cut – week 9

    Posted: August 17, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

    aug 17
    Week 9 got off to a rough start. I think I got food poisoned because I wasn’t able to keep anything down for a couple of days, which also killed my appetite.

    Not only that but the road to feeling normal again meant eating more carbs than usual for a couple of days.

    I did notice that my face is really starting to lean out though, so I’m closing in on the last bit of fat.

    Just as the week was ending I took my girlfriend to Niagara Falls, which meant I couldn’t really train with weights since the Crown Royal gym was crap. But I did take a run along the waterfront every morning.

    You probably know by now that I’m hugely into naturally optimizing hormones via diet and training, I’ve recently implemented a protocol that just might be the most potent way of getting a surge of anabolic hormones around!

    Testosterone is generally correlated with heavy weights, where Growth Hormone is usually correlated with lighter loads but a higher build up of lactic acid.

    I often start out a workout with heavy weights, then switch over to hypertrophy-style training and it has been working exceptionally well.

    However I found an interesting way to take it to the next level!

    NOTE: This is best suited to legs and arm, back and chest will not work with this methodology for reasons you’ll soon discover.

    MOVEMENT 1:

    There is probably another name for this out there, but it is a very uncommon way of training that focusses on Perceived maximal force. I tend to call these Power Drops.

    Your goal is to do 6-8 drops all with only 1 repetition.

    Example, Leg extension:
    set 1 – 200 lbs x 1 rep (no rest)
    set 2 – 180 lbs x 1 rep (no rest)
    set 3 – 160 lbs x 1 rep (no rest)
    set 4 – 140 lbs x 1 rep (no rest)
    set 5 – 120 lbs x 1 rep (no rest)
    set 6 – 100 lbs x 1 rep (no rest)
    set 7 – 90 lbs x 1 rep (no rest)
    set 8 – 80 lbs x 1 rep (rest 2-3 min then repeat once more)

    The beauty of this is that you will get a massive burn as well as working extremely intensely. Another benefit is that after a couple of rounds of this you will know what your 1RM is for that exercise, which comes in handy for the next step…

    MOVEMENT 2:

    Use the same exercise with occlusion for 5 sets. So you would occlude the top of your legs in this case and start with about 20% of your 1RM for 20 reps, rest about 60 seconds, then do 15 reps. continue this pattern, but if you can’t hit 15 reps lower the weight but only rest 30 seconds.

    example (leg extension w/occlusion):
    set 1 – 50 lbs x 20 reps (1 min rest)
    set 2 – 50 lbs x 15 reps (1 min rest)
    set 3 – 50 lbs x 10 reps (30 sec rest)
    set 4 – 40 lbs x 15 reps (1 min rest)
    set 5 – 40 lbs x 12 reps (set complete, remove occlusion bands)

    I find this works best with machines as they are both safe and versatile in terms of the weights you can use.

    This probably isn’t something you want to do too often, but can be a great way to shake up your workouts, especially while cutting as it should provide a surge of growth hormone!

    Related: 10 Unconventional training tips that give massive results

    2013 contest cut – week 8

    Posted: August 7, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

    I think I missed week 7, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve made a couple changes that have helped me shed a decent amount of fat while also adding on some lean weight…

    I started by breaking my supplements into a 5-day block: morning, pre-woprkout, post-workout, mid-afternoon and pre-bed. This makes sure I’m getting steady doses of the vitamins I need. It makes perfect sense considering I eat in pretty much the same way.

    At the beginning of my cut I was mainly doing HIIT cardio. I’ve cut down to only about 1-2 HIIT sessions and instead I do more empty-stomach outdoor runs. I’m not sure why yet, but this has done me far more good than just HIIT.

    Finally, I’ve lowered the amount of weight training I’ve been doing. My muscle mass hasn’t suffered, in fact it’s improved so I think I was actually creating too much of a catabolic deficit before.

    I seem to learn something new with each cut, so hopefully I remember these ones next time around 🙂