Posts Tagged ‘calories’

Anyone familiar with Layne Norton may have read some of his contest prep articles, as I have – and in fact I used some of his advice when preparing for more than one photo shoot.

Recently he unleashed an ebook which is extremely long and in depth, all about the process of preparing to go on stage in a physique competition, and even though I have no interest in stepping on stage it intrigued me.

First of all, I must say I highly appreciate the fact that when you go to his page (which I refuse to link) it is not one of those 10-zillion page long advertisement pages, it is simply a picture of the ebook and you can choose either the men’s or women’s version — although I’m almost certain they are the exact same book… because throughout the thing it gives advice for both men and women.

So while it was a far better buying experiences than most of the online sales experiences I have to admit that my first read through of the books ok left me annoyed.

Why? Because it is being pitched as a comprehensive 260 page book, which suggests there is a ton of information packed in there. However it could have easily been shaved down by a hundred pages or so.

The first 80-some pages were filled with very basic information about calorie balance… in other words stuff that anyone who is about to enter a show already knows.

The last section is all about poses, which is probably helpful to some people but let’s do a quick reality check… anyone who is serious about getting on stage will almost certainly need a coach, not a $40 ebook to learn this stuff. Having a coach for doing a show is also vital because you tend to be so depleted that it’s almost impossible to do everything with meal planning and creating an effective training program on your own.

Buuut – the book does an excellent job of laying out much of the detailed information a coach would normally be handling so it can be good educationally if you choose to work with a coach and if you choose not to, you’ll have a better idea of why you probably should be.

I actually see the book as more of a narrative in the life of a professional bodybuilder than an actual how-to guide.

There are millions of books that will help you get from bad to good in terms of physique improvement and I believe the goal of this book was to help people go from good to great. Does it succeed in that? Yes in a sense. Layne discusses much of the same topics that can be found in his pre-contest articles but in more depth in the latter parts of the book. He also talks about what to do after a show, which may be excellent for anyone on a restricted diet of any kind.

That being said, I would simply suggest that if you get the book you set your expectations appropriately; it is not likely to be 260 pages of NEW information, but a large dose of old information, some “nice to know” information and a little bit of advice that will very likely be valuable at some point in your life if you want to get ridiculously lean.

definition: a “recomp” is considered to be building muscle while shedding fat.

Is it possible, in a word yes. Is it easy? Definitely not. In fact it is not even optimal at times.

Generally when we want to shed fat we cut calories and train for hypertrophy and lactic acid. When looking to add lean muscle we seek a caloric surplus and focus on strength and testosterone training.

So when is a recomp ideal?

Personally I think it can be beneficial:

1. When returning from injury or extended time off

2. When doing a body transformation 

3. Mid-season to keep the body in good condition.

4. As year-round “maintenance”.

Now here is how I approach it…

The goal here is to make the body primed for GH creation, and utilize fat for fuel. Avoid carbohydrates for at least 3 hours prior to training.

For pre-workout, BCAAs with at least 3g Leucine will be a good starting point along with a gram or so of L-carnitine (L-tartrate). If caffeine is wanted I typically prefer green tea-based caffeine.


The most effective training method I’ve found for this is combining strength-training with high volume cell-swelling training… I do this with Polliquin’s 6-12-25 routine. This is designed to build up massive amounts of lactic acid which will help with the GH we want to build muscle and burn fat.

Immediately post workout we want to mimic insulin while GH is soaring. Once again take BCAAs, and this time include R-ALA, creatine and Taurine.

For the post workout shower end it with cold water. This is utilizing a similar concept as contrast baths to help improve recovery and can aid with fat loss.

About an hour or so later is when I take the “recovery” meal which is typically whey isolate mixed with greens.


Personally I find it most effective to be on the low-end of calories for this, with the majority of the calories coming between training and going to bed.

Always keep carbohydrates low early in the day.

Stimulating Muscle Growth in Multiple Ways
Insulin: why it may be the key to the body you desire
Growth Hormone Part 3: Anabolic Combinations

I recently re-read this fantastic article by Tom Venuto where he breaks the quest for added mass into 3 parts: Calories, Macronutrients and Training.

I found it interesting that he split up calories from macronutrients where most (including myself) would lump them together under “diet”.

I like that he sticks to the basic philosophy of a moderate caloric surplus with a 55/30/15 (carb/protein/fat) macronutrient split complemented with a hypertrophy-based progressive overload training routine that centers around compound movements (as per Tom: “Out of all these basic mass building exercises, no exercise is better for packing on pounds of quality muscle than the squat.”).

Regarding calories he even suggests the following: “The secret to gaining lean bodyweight is calories. Most people who want to gain weight and are having a difficult time doing so just aren’t eating enough.”

I think Tom has hit the nail on the head here. Speaking from experience, especially as someone who has dieted extensively in the past, it is a challenge to get eat as much as is needed for noticeable gains. And what happens with a lot of people is they resort to eating junk to fill in the caloric gaps. That becomes problematic because instead of using the calories to build muscle your body has to digest and remove waste, and you tend to add weight as fat.

My friend and mentor Rob Regish figured this out. He created the massively popular program “The Blueprint” which was an extremely innovative way to utilize nutrients. He realized that by limiting your food initially you create both a hormonal response as well as setting you on the right path from a psychological standpoint as well.

Personally I’ve found that the only way I can hit my needed calories in a surplus is to follow a pre-designed diet, which can be as simple as an excel table. But even that becomes a challenge after a while. Within a week of following a diet like this I found myself actually dreading eating if you can believe it.

So this is where having clearly defined goals comes in, and I’ve found that re-writing my goal every morning was the best way to accomplish this. If you as me, THIS is the “secret” to gaining muscle.

It’s just about diet season for me, but I’m actually excited by all of this and may even head into a third gaining phase when I’ve sorted out an injury I’ll be posting about shortly. Stay tuned 🙂

Keeping Lean in a Caloric Surplus

Isolating Compound Movements

SuperHero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

I just read a fairly disturbing article:

Now this of course isn’t anything new, but it is a good reminder of the way that good intentions can often get bastardized along the road.

It’s an interesting paradox that the bodybuilding world is at once about reaching the highest levels of fitness, but for many about taking their body to unhealthy extremes in order to achieve what might be considered a vain outward ideal.

This is actually one of the things that has kept me from stepping onstage. While I love getting into great shape and dieting down after a successful muscle gaining cycle, the idea of prancing around in a banana hammock to be judged by others and compared to others, seems to me a bit of a mockery of what the entire health and fitness industry SHOULD stand for.

I’ve actually had the misfortune of dating someone with an eating disorder, and it is an extremely tragic, and often frustrating thing because often the person doesn’t even see it as a problem. When dieting down to get to extremes to meet some sort of external ideal I can see how people could potentially do a lot of harm to themselves.

I suppose to me what is saddest in this whole thing is that young people look up to some of these people and decide that achieving outward recognition is more important that obtaining a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. It’s a discussion I have with my daughter regularly, as she is just getting to the age where she is feeling pressured to have a certain body image.

Okay, enough on this depressing subject, let’s hit the gym, eat well and have a great life!!!

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