Archive for September, 2013

2013 transformation contest results

Posted: September 30, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

I participated in two transformation contests this summer, and while I was hyper-critical of my own results, I received tremendous feedback and wound up placing pretty high in both of them.

In the MI40 contest I placed 3rd, and in the BFFM challenge I made the top ten. Based on the number of contestants in each those are new high points for me, so I want to extend gratitude to everyone who gave me their support (including the contest organizers themselves).

As far as the specifics of my diet program beyond what I outlined in my 2013 cut blog series, I’ve been putting together a pdf which outlines a more specific version of the progressive protocol I used, so stay tuned for that…

In my previous post on the subject of periodization, I addressed the concept of periodization in exercise programs and my position on it.

I’m going to follow that up with something that I feel to be very important when it comes to resistance training.

Anyone who has picked up a book on physical training knows that the “comfort zone” is your worst enemy when it comes to bodybuilding. Taking a moment to think about this it becomes immediately evident why… we train with weights to induce stress to our bodies in order to imitate a muscle-building hormonal response. If we become too comfortable with our training regimen it becomes a “routine” which is exactly what we don’t want.

In order to release growth hormone we must constantly challenge the body with new and/or more intense stimulus. To allow the body to adapt favorably, this progression comes first in the form of progressing within a routine, then by altering the variables within it. This is where I feel the true power of periodization truly lies.

I still hold to the idea of doing the majority of your training based on a specific goal, but changing up the exercises, the total volume, etc can have a powerful affect on progress.

Everyone has heard of “Newbie gains”. This comes largely as a result of giving an untrained body a new stimulus that forces it to adapt, and newbies have a lot of areas that need improvement. The more advanced you become the more you have to do to create a physically stressful environment.

The first thing that probably pops into mind here is “just do more!”. Unfortunately it’s not that easy because there comes a point of diminishing returns. If you don’t give the body adequate time to recover from the stressful hormones while it raises the anabolic ones, you’ll find yourself constantly at the wrong end of the hormonal meridian.

Similar to what I said before, “periodizing” calories can also be an effective way to affect your body’s response to training.

Here’s another thing to consider…. Different rep ranges work different muscle fibers… if some of those fibers are not worked you are losing out on some potential gains.

For example: Since I’m coming off of a contest prep (where my rep ranges were mid-to high), I’m now spending the next 6 weeks focusing on training a little heavier but also supplementing it with hypertrophy training.

Go forth and grow!!!

Related: Unconventional Training methods Part 2

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Seeing as I’ve done PT certification and take on clients when time permits, you’d think I’d be pretty definitively in favor of hiring a personal trainer… Well that’s not quite the case.

Why TO hire a trainer:

1. You are a beginner and need help with exercise form

2. You have hit a plateau and need an outsider to push you beyond your normal limits

3. Specialization within a specific sport

In either case you have to hire someone whom you trust and share ideology.

To ensure this is the case I suggest chatting with the trainers you are considering as informally as possible. You want someone who will push you, but in a way that works WITH you, not against you.

Why NOT to hire a trainer:

1. The majority of trainers have more training in sales tactics than physiology

2. You should learn to push yourself outside of your comfort zone before relying on someone else

3. You know your body more than anyone else (or at least you should)

4. The biggest thing you often learn with a PT is reliance on them!
-in fact this is the whole basis of the business!

There is a great comment in The Wealthy Barber, where the author talks about financial advisors and stick brokers and remarks that most of them are not affluent themselves but their area of speciality is actually in selling themselves… I feel it is exactly the same with personal trainers, and in fact with the majority of people making a living in the fitness industry. I have had enough personal encounters with such people to make me hold firm to this belief.

It is far better to educate yourself and hold your destiny in your own hands.


Weak-point training

SuperHero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

2013 contest cut – week 13

Posted: September 9, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

I heard a great quote the other day that success is built upon the ashes of failure. While I believe that this has been my most successful cut to date, I think I can improve upon it even more, which is why it is good that I have closely monitored my dietary, training and supplement protocol so that I can hopefully shift things slightly the next time around and be even more successful than this one. To assist with that process I’ve decided that I’m going to continue dieting until I hit my target. That should help give me a better idea of where my starting point should be next time.

Week 13 was mainly about four things:
1. Train my butt off to shed the remaining pounds
2. Discontinue creatine (in preparation for the week 14 creatine load).
3. get tan
4. Begin loading sodium

One of the issues I faced this week was that by deliberately loading up my sodium, I was bloated and retaining water, so the numbers didn’t come down as drastically as I would’ve liked, but I can still see progress in the mirror.

I’ve tanned about as dark as I think I’m likely to get, so today I’m going to put on a first coat of pro-tan. Picture day is this coming Saturday, following which I’ll be pulling an airplane.

Weak point Training part 1

Posted: September 4, 2013 in fitness, fun

Knowing that my forearms, calves and back need greater developement, I have been experimenting with a slightly new protocol that seems to be doing pretty well based on how much it hurts just to type this blog!

I actually created a spilt routine that was focussed on developing both of these which looks like this:

Day 1: Mid-back & forearms
Day 2: Quads & calves
Day 3: Chest & forearms
Day 4: Delts & traps
Day 5: Lats, lower back, hams & forearms
Day 6: Arms & calves

Since the point is to make as dramatic an increase in size as possible, I’ve implemented several different advanced modalities to create muscle swelling and favorable hormonal responses.

I’ll get into each specific workout in the future, but for today’s blog I’ll cover the thought behind it…

As you can see, forearms and calves are trained pretty frequently as they are small muscle groups and can handle it. In general I also train these parts with a very slow tempo both on the concentric as well as the eccentric and keep a higher-than-normal time under tension.

Back is split up into three days so that I can focus on different parts of it. That’s the only way I’ve found that I’m able to adequately stimulate both the lats and the mid/upper back.

Pairing delts with traps has always been a favourite of mine because the two groups are so closely tied that pre-fatiguing one forces the other to work harder.

When I’m cutting I also throw crunches into pretty much every workout, but off-season, this split gives me tons of core work (when execution is correct).


2013 contest cut – week 12

Posted: September 3, 2013 in 2013 cut, fitness

Week 12 was a huge week in term of closing in on my goals for a multitude of reasons…

One of the great breakthroughs came when my friend Clare pointed me towards one of Brian Tracy’s programs. He talked about the fact that it is impossible to exceed our own expectations for ourselves. This really motivated me to push myself in the gym, both in terms of telling myself I could do one rep more than usual, and actually performing that rep despite being in excruciating pain. It has also been helpful from the standpoint of re-establishing my short-term goals, which is bound to help in the coming weeks as well.

I also made a big change in my diet, taking out whey and replacing it with white fish (mainly tilapia). I also tried to take out most of the artificial sweeteners, including BCAAs, meaning I’m taking them in pill form now.

One of the other things I’ve been implementing is cold showers. I began this a week or two ago, but I’ve been gradually building up the amount of time I spend in the cold shower. I got to 90 seconds this week.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a massage so I got in with my therapist for a once-over. In the process she mentioned that my forearms and calves were a bit out of proportion, which I actually appreciated. Even though I won’t be able to bring them up in the last two weeks I’ll at least try to balance it out a bit.

This has also been a week of trying to get tanned, which is always a challenge for a guy as white as me, but I’ve actually been having a bit of success with this which will hopefully make my typical protocol of sunless tanning at least not quite as necessary.

Finally. I really killed it in the gym this week, working out at least two times per day counting cardio, and sometimes as much as 4 times. It is a bit of overkill, but this is the time when I need to do that.