Monday, January 20, 2014


Eating for the Bodybuilding Physique

Here's how you can benefit from some old-school eating habits.

They say we are what we eat. Never a truer word has been spoken and you can look around and pretty much tell who eats right and who doesn’t. I look at today’s society and see obesity all around me starting with the kids right on up to the adults. TV reality shows are all popping up now with those like ‘The Biggest Loser’, Jillian Michael’s ‘Losing It’ and specials on obesity and diabetes.
I don’t remember seeing this much coverage on weight in the 70’s as it wasn’t as big a problem then or at least it wasn’t in the media. Today more people are on the run and want to eat quick so they pick those items that are full of sugars and fats and don’t stop to analyze what’s in it and what it will do to them. Some gain 100 lbs in no time and don’t even realize it until it’s there. Then they’re on to their 2nd 100 lbs.
When I was in school, we had cafeterias that took pride in their meals and were cooked by little old ladies in the back. Each meal was balanced and came with a lot of flavor as well. Today’s schools package meals and stick them in vending machines for the kids. It’s a no thought process.
I started my 70’s diet in the 60’s so you might say I was ahead of my time. But, I got most my information out of reading muscle magazines, which the average person would never read and even laugh at me for doing it. These articles began my structure to eat right and get results in my body.
The main diet for bodybuilding in the 70’s was high protein and low carb. It was Protein to build the muscle and less carb to reduce body fat. It made perfect sense to me and the others that trained. However when you would try to explain this to someone on the street, it would be an argument about how they liked to eat all the other foods. This wasn’t a case of like or dislike, but we would eat for results even if we didn’t like the food.

2.This diet started way back maybe even beyond the 50’s but I do remember in 1967 many of the bodybuilders on the beach drinking quart containers of extra rich milk or even cream. Some would go to restaurants and drink the cream right out of the containers on the tables. This was pretty extreme but they did it. The reason for this was of course the extra protein and the fat content for energy, which I’ll get into later in this article.
Supplements were just breaking ground around then and the main things to take were liver pills that were extreme in building stomach gases and Soy protein, which really didn’t work that well. Some of us would add powdered milk to our regular milk just to get more protein. I would also see protein cans on the shelves in stores but the spelling was PROTEEN. I was never sure what was in that so I didn’t try it. But, I did use dehydrated fish powder as it was considered pure protein. I wasn’t easily digested and tasted like vomit but it did have its value.
We depended most on ‘real’ foods such as the diet below and this was very basic.
Breakfast - Beef patty and 3 eggs, cottage cheese and vitamins.
Lunch - Chicken or Fish, or Beef patty, small salad, option eggs and cottage cheese. Or Tuna.
Mid afternoon snack – Can of Tuna or chicken breasts or protein drink.
Dinner -Steak, or Chicken with small salad, cottage cheese and sugar free jello and vegetables.
Bedtime – Cheese omelet
This was considered high protein, low carbohydrate and the fats came from eggs and cheese and for some of the other people, extra rich milk or cream. In fact we were supposed to mix our protein with cream which was the Rheo H. Blair theory.

Rheo had his own supplements which were expensive but were deemed to get results for bodybuilders like Larry Scott and Don Howarth to name a couple.
Fats were used to burn as energy in the gym and would not be stored on the body as fat whereas carbohydrates are stored as fat and burned later. You would need a certain amount of calories to burn and the fat would increase those. But, going without carbs for long periods of time can deplete your body and your brain and can make you very angry.
You do need some sugar and one day a week it was ok to go off the diet and have a junk day. This day to many was usually Sundays were we could eat anything we wanted all day long. The belief in that was you cannot get fat in one day. Everything you eat will pass right through and not stick, but it will retain water so by Monday you could be up in weight 5 lbs. or more and back to normal by Wednesday.
We always looked forward to Sundays, as many of us would down whole pizzas, half gallons of ice cream, cookies, cheesecakes, spaghetti and meatballs and just about any sugar we could find. I even went as far as to suck out the cookie crumbs from the empty box. It was an uncontrollable craving that was not really healthy at all.
I remember crawling away from the dinner table at night so bloated that I could hardly walk. This was the case of many but then right back on the diet the next day.

Many of us would eat at ‘smorgys’, all you can eat places in fact the sign said, “all you can eat.” We’d eat as much as 12 pieces of chicken in one sitting just to get the protein. Some of the guys would bring in their gym bags and tin foil and sneak out another dozen chicken breasts for later. Soon the management was losing money and discouraged all bodybuilders from coming in and changed the sign to ‘the best you can eat.”
In today’s world we are asked to watch our fats because of heart and artery problems and cholesterol build up. This makes a lot of sense and I do believe that everything should be done in moderation.
Fad diets came along later in the 70s like the Atkin’s diet, Zone diet which were complete knockoffs of our bodybuilding diet. I tried to explain this diet to several people back then but they felt more convinced by reading about it when it became the Aitkin’s diet. I guess they didn’t think that we as bodybuilders knew much.
I think some of the biggest issues with this diet were mood swings from feeling starved from carbohydrates and also elimination because of the high protein and no bulk. The mood swings could be reversed by a little sugar and the elimination was balanced out by taking a form of fiber at least once to twice a day.
On a diet like this, you can get very lean and muscular in a short period of time but, if you reverse it and go back to eating carbs, your body will tend to get heavy and blow up way beyond where you were when you started. Fat cells don’t disappear, but instead shrink in size, so when you feed them again, they blow up to original size and bigger.
I’ve found that over the years, it’s best to do this in moderation. No more junk days but instead a little carbs every few days. I don’t get fat and can stay hard plus keep my sanity as well. I don’t eat a lot and space my meals just as I did back then. If I feel a pound or two start to come on, then I’ll cut back even more but always try to maintain where I look good in the mirror. The scale doesn’t tell the truth, because you can lose weight and still look fat, but the mirror doesn’t lie.

food supplements

I know the importance of eating whole foods and you can’t deny the great results you can get while eating a well balanced diet.  But then there is this whole other world out there: supplements.
gym bag supplements
Being a former athlete, and a strength and conditioning coach, I deal mostly with athletes.  One of the biggest conversations that always comes up is about supplements.
I believe if you are serious about weight training and exercise, supplements can assist you in achieving your goals.  I’m not saying supplements are the key to all things.  Hell no.  I’m saying supplements are just what they are – they supplement your diet and training.
Don’t think that if you just drink protein shakes you’ll build a chest like Arnold or trap like The Hulk.  It doesn’t work that way.  You have to make sure you have the correct training and diet on top of the supplements.
There are several supplements that I think you should have in your gym bag.  Many people are uninformed about supplements and are in the mindset that all supplements are evil.  That’s a bit extreme, but if you do feel that way, I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong.  Everyone has a right to their own opinion.
But if you are curious about which supplements are essential, then check out the following list.  I’ve had great results by just focusing on whole foods as well as great results using supplements.  It’s all about what you prefer.
In this list I’m not going to talk about multivitamins or fish oil, but I do think they are very important to have and everyone should be taking them whether you workout or not.  The following supplements are actual supplements I’ve tried.  I haven’t tried them all because there are thousands, but out of the ones I did, the following products make the list.



benefits of protein shakes
I love protein powder.  In order to build muscle, you need to consume protein.  From experience, I found that many people have ahard time eating large amounts of protein.  I recommend people taking in 1-1.5 g of protein per lean body mass (LBM).  If you train with weights, play a sport, take part in manual labor, and have a hard time taking in enough protein from whole food sources, then protein powder will help you reach you protein intake.
Don’t worry about the absorption rate and make things more confusing than they really are.  There are a ton of protein powders out there; whey, casein, soy, egg, beef, and hemp to name a few.
Personally I’m a big fan of whey protein and have only used whey.  I’ve dabbed into casein a few times but found that it was too much to stomach.  Actually, I may have to write about the differences between the two or maybe about all of the different protein powders.
But for this article, I like Whey Protein best because you can find some that taste great, is a complete amino acid source, is categorized as being a “fast absorbing”, and you can come across some great deals on them online and nutrition stores.
What is whey from? If you like cheese or have ever been to Canada and enjoyed some poutine, you’ll know what I mean by cheese curds.  Basically, during cheese making, the milk coagulates which causes there to be a separation of solid and liquid.  The solid comes out to be the cheese and the left over liquid is the whey which is turned into powder (in the culinary world this is called ‘separating the curds and the wheys’…ah-hah!)
2.  Cytosport Muscle Milk (This is what I’m using now because Costco has it, and everyone loves Costco!)


I think creatine gets a bad rap.  For many of the strength and power athletes I train, I do recommend they supplement with Creatine Monohydrate.  I actually came across a great study by Jose Antonio, a sports nutrition expert, said, “Chronic supplementation with creatine monohydrate has been shown to promote increases in total intramuscular creatine, phosphocreatine, skeletal muscle mass, lean body mass and muscle fiber size.” To me, that says it’s – AWESOME.
NOTE: The recommended amount of creatine monohydrate is 5 grams.  That comes out to be a teaspoon.  That’s it.  So all that talk about how you get bloated, gain water weight, and all that other crap are from people who feel like the more they take the faster the gains and from supplement companies telling you take scoops of creatine before and after workouts.  Do you feel a rant coming?
So when do you take it? Many labels say to do a loading period, then to take it before and after, along with all these other ideas.  But the same study by Jose Antonio found “it appears that consuming creatine immediately post-workout is superior to pre-workout vis a vis body composition and strength.”
Now I’ve become loyal consumer of only 3 creatine products.  Plus if you stick to the 5 grams per serving, you’ll find that the container can last you a super long time.
1.  GAT Creatine 1000g (This is what I presently use, 200 servings per container!)


I became a huge fan of BCAAs while I was preparing for my first bodybuilding competition.  When preparing for a bodybuilding competition, I came across studies and personal experiences showing how BCAAs helps maintain as much muscles mass while in a caloric deficit.  After the bodybuilding competition I was back in the gym trying to gain more muscle and it only seemed obvious to me to continue using BCAAs.
What do BCAAs do?
Many studies have shown that BCAAs increase protein synthesis, and could possible do so greater than other protein sources.  BCAAs are also known to increase the capacity of protein synthesis in a cell as well as reduce the breakdown of protein.  So let’s get to the point, by increasing protein synthesis and decreasing breakdown it sets up a perfect environment of muscle mass gain/maintenance.
I recommend to ingest BCAAs during workouts.  You are tearing down muscle while working out so it only makes sense to take in BCAAs to create an environment geared for protein synthesis.  I like to sip on my BCAA drink throughout my workout on top of drinking water.
BCAAs is another supplement that I’ve found that I always grab the same ones.  For me, it always depends on which one has the better deal.

best pre workout4. PRE-WORKOUT

There has been recent news out there about pre-workout and fat loss supplements have become illegal because some could contain a stimulant called dimethylamylamine, or DMAA.  The FDA actually came out and announced in the NY Times that “the stimulant did not qualify as a legal dietary supplement ingredient and that it could raise blood pressure, potentially causing heart attacks and other health problems.”
So now that I put out the risks behind this supplement, just make sure you check the label so it doesn’t have DMAA.  They are actually trying to clear these supplements off the shelves but they are more than likely going to still be on many.
Aside from that – I like a good pre-workout drink.  Okay, maybe I’m slightly a stimulant junkie.  I’d have to thank my old powerlifting crew back in Redlands, CA for that.
What are pre-workout supplements for?
To feel frickin’ invincible.  The best way to think of a pre-workout supplement for those who are unexperienced with them or don’t know what they are – it’s basically a cup of coffee – but The Incredible Hulk style.  It’s an intense “pick-me-upper”.
There are many to chose from and they are known to: increase the pump, increase energy, increase intensity during the workout, improve focus, increase nutrient delivery, decrease muscle breakdown, reduce the amount of lactic acid build up, and a few other things.
I enjoy a pre-workout supplement especially on days where I’m feeling a bit lazy or if it’s leg day.  Leg day is the hardest and takes a lot out of you.  A little extra oomph will always help you.
There are hundred of pre-workout supplements out there to choose from and some even have some ridiculous claims such as gain 10 lbs in 4 weeks.  Don’t buy that sort of crap.  I’ve tried a good handful of pre workouts and many of the guys I know who train have shared their thoughts with me as well.
1.  USPLabs Jack3D Micro (new formula without DMAA)
4.  iForce Hemavol (Non-Stimulant Cell Volumizer)
Marc Lobliner who is someone I follow and trust when it comes to supplements because let’s just say he knows what he’s talking about.  But he gave a suggestion of using iForce Hemavol since it’s a non-stimulant combined with another pre-workout with a stimulant.  Now, if you want to feel like smashing like The Hulk or going crazy like Wolverine in the gym – that’s the potion right there.


Remember, before taking any supplements, make sure to consult with your physician. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article.  Supplements are not the key nor is it a must to build lean muscle.  The must is to have good nutrition and epic training consistency and discipline.  None of these supplements will get you ripped to shreds or huge gunz in a month.  I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you that it will.  Nothing can beat determination, dedication, and discipline.

muscle building

Physique transformation is a long process, and it’s not really a straight path, at least in the sense that your progress isn’t consistent. Rather than progressing in a linear manner — in terms of both actual growth and the amount of time it takes — muscle growth tends to happen in “bursts.”
Unfortunately, these bursts are usually interspersed with long draughts of progress: the dreaded plateau.
You’ll often hear about guys who simply “can’t” get any bigger despite their best efforts. These guys have hit full-body plateaus, really. Most of the time, this is an issue with a guy’s diet more than training; these guys are often not eating enough. Slightly less talked-about but certainly more insidious are single-body-part plateaus, where someone is experiencing pretty decent progress overall, but one muscle group seems to have stalled out like the ’84 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera I drove in high school. (Hey, don’t laugh; that car had personality. It may not have had air conditioning or a working radio… or a functional passenger side seat belt, but it sure as hell had personality.)
Unlike most issues with muscle growth, where food (or lack thereof) is usually the culprit, single-body-part plateaus aren’t typically due to a dietary deficiency. They’re usually a training issue. Not just lack of training, but lack of activation that leads to lack of development.
And, as anyone who’s ever hit such a wall can tell you, training a muscle in a way that allows for subpar activation is worse than not training it at all. Not only do you get the same results (none), you also waste your time. This must be avoided, and to do that, you need to learn to activate your muscles to get them growing again.
So today, I want to share five quick tips to jump-start growth in any muscle. Nothing crazy, no groundbreaking secrets from some Eastern Bloc black ops training camp. Just five tried-and-true methods I use with my clients to get their stubborn muscles growing like (insert simile of something that grows fast). No, I didn’t forget to add it in. I just couldn’t think of anything cool.

1- Don’t just lift — lift fast

Unless you’re doing a program that specifically calls for a dedicated lifting and lower speed (like lactic acid training), don’t worry about tempo. As an industry, we’re really getting away from tempo prescriptions as a whole.
In fact, Jason Ferruggia (excellent trainer, extreme badass) has cited the prescription of slow tempos for muscle growth as one of the biggest mistakes and wastes of time in his career. While I don’t think we need to write tempos off completely — everything has its place — I do think that getting away from structured speed for a few months speeds (ahem, pun intended) results. Anyway, rather than wasting you mental energy timing your rep, always try to lift explosively. Increasing bar speed will force you to amplify recruitment of fast-twitch muscle. This simple trick will affect your body in profound ways.
The increase neurological efficiency has obvious implications for muscle growth, but from a fat-loss perspective it’s also great because you’ll use more weight, which is just more calorically expensive and metabolically challenging. Ultimately, you’ll have greater activation, recruitment and development. As an added bonus, lifting in this way will increase both neurogenic and myogenic muscle tone, helping you look leaner even at a slightly higher level of body fat. Try this with shoulder exercises and enjoy the new look of your delts just a few sessions later.

2- Perform Unilateral Exercises

Single-limb movements, particularly with heavy weight, recruit High Threshold Motor Units (HTMUs). Recruitment of HTMUs has carryover to muscle building by escalating overall fiber recruitment and neurological efficiency, allowing you to stimulate muscles more easily and create growth more.
Of course, training your entire body using unilateral exercises does double the workout time, so I normally recommend starting your workout with big bilateral movements, then transitioning to a few sets of single-limb exercises, and finishing back up with some more explosive bilateral stuff. As an example, going from front squats to heavy single-leg squats, and then to jump squats.

3- Pre-Stimulate

To increase growth of a target muscle, pre-stimulation with an isolation movement is one of the smartest things you can do. While I don’t normally like too many isolation exercises, everything has its place.
This is very different from something like pre-exhaustion, where the goal is to fatigue the targeted muscles in an attempt to shift the emphasis later. Again, it all comes down to activation. With pre-stimulation, the idea is to establish recruitment patterns early in the workout with an isolation exercise that will have carryover to the more productive compound movements you’ll use later on.
Perform a fast and light set of flys before you hit the bench press and your pecs will be activated and actually perform more work; whereas had you not done this, your triceps and shoulders may have done the brunt of the work.
You don’t need to do this before every set, just the first 2 to 3 in your workout. The pre-activation effect will not only have impact on the immediacy in the workout, but will also teach your body new recruitment patterns overall.
Also, try a set of straight-arm pull-downs before pull-ups, and you’ll notice you feel your lats firing more effectively. For those of you looking to develop a larger quad “sweep,” lateral lunges before sets of squats can help your recruit your Vastus lateralis more efficiently.

 4- The Magic Touch

This is absolutely one of my favorite sneaky tricks to gain muscle fast. During your set, lightly touch the muscle you are working. This will boost mind-muscle connection via a method called tactile stimulation to send signals to both brain and body to increase activation of that muscle.
Early in my training career, I had less connection to my back than I did to any other muscle. No matter what I did, I’d pretty much just leave my back out of it. Anytime I did pull-ups, I was basically just using my arms.
Then I started touching myself. (Well, I did.)
I switched all of my back exercises to unilateral movements, and with my non-working arm, I would reach across my body and touch the lat of the working side. By doing this, I was able to feel when I wasn’t working, and tried to actively engage my muscles during the exercise.
Over time, I was able to develop intense mind-muscle connection, allowing me to activate my lats not only during the unilateral sets, but, eventually during all back exercises. The result? My back went from being one of my visually weakest body parts to the most impressively well-developed. I use this with my clients now, and we’re able to see significant progress over a short time.
This works incredibly well with back and calves. Most people also have an issue with glute activation, so resting a hand on your tuckus while you’re doing lying hip raises can definitely help get your glutes to fire and improve development and strength.

 5- More Work, Less Time

Another fun (and challenging) way to bring up a lagging body part is to try to complete your given workout in less time. Decreasing training time without cutting workout volume increases training density. The targeted muscle will experience more stimulation without recovering, forcing your body to compensate with an increase in work capacity, power output, muscular density (hardness), and size.
Outside of being great for jump-starting development in a given muscle, increasing training density is incredible as a fat-loss technique, and performing density training for a single muscle while on a fat-loss plan can certainly help you bring up that body part while losing a little fat.
Density training is one of the featured training styles in my badass e-book,Final Phase Fat Loss. There you have it, short and sweet.
Five simple but instantly effective ways to jump-start growth and development in any muscle that you can put into action as early as tomorrow.