TOTAL STAGE PREP MANUAL
THE NO NONSENSE APPROACH TO BODYBUILDING COMPETITION
By Ian Duckett
NATURAL, BRITISH, EUROPE, AND WORLD CHAMPION
51 and still killing it(and loving it)
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from Ian Duckett
This book is presented for information purposes only.
Ian Duckett and BodyIndesign assumes no responsibility in the correct use or incorrect use of the information within.
Always consult your Doctor
Bodybuilding, weight training, and lifting weights, has been my foundation of life since the age of 14.
Everything I have had, owned, are, and am today is because of bodybuilding.
It sounds very one dimensional and maybe it is, but that said, I could tell you all the good this sport has brought me in life, I have made and built my whole business life around it. I have seen so much of the world through competing, and due to my success in the business, been able to afford really amazing holidays for my family.
I have made some incredible friendships – forged in the iron, brothers and sisters that lived the lifestyle, worked hard, and overcame great odds all because of this thing called bodybuilding.
This book is for those who are looking to taking their training and nutrition to the next level. Maybe even the stage.
You may be thinking about it – running all those thoughts through your head…“am I good enough?” “can I do it”, or maybe you just don’t know how the hell to start this journey.
By the time you have read this book you will know everything you need to know. Then the ball is in your court.
Some of you may be seasoned competitors, or just working your way up the ranks.
For the seasoned bodybuilder – there is always something to learn and pick up to ‘improve’. You should never stop learning and improving. Even after 36 years of competing – yes 36 years – I still learn new things all the time.
For those in the junior sections or novice classes this book may save you years of trial and error.
Lastly, for those coaches and trainers out there this book will definitely help you in your business, for the information contained within is all of my experience, everything I applied to my clients that made my work in bodybuilding hugely successful, because of my clients doing very well every time we went to the shows.
Their success lifted all of us even higher.
LET’S DO THIS
I want this book to be of huge value to you, so that you read it time and time again, always gaining something from it at different points in your competition, and everyday life.
Take yourself to that next level.
Pick a goal
Work towards a goal
Achieve a goal
Set another and repeat
Your life will be richer and your level of achievement in all areas will always be higher, because of stepping up to that one thing.
Do it – do it now.
Be the best you can be.
CHAPTER ONE, OFF SEASON – IS ‘ON IT’ SEASON
Bill Pearl, Mr Universe my favourite bodybuilder and mentor, would decide a year out from a competition what he would like to look like by that time. He would train an entire year for a major show. What he did for the entire year was all based on the end result, the goal. Bill would always start light in bodyweight and grow towards a competition.
Skip Lacaur, the best natural bodybuilder ever, once said, and I quote; “what you do 7 months out from a show is as important as seven weeks out and seven days out”.
If you want to be really good at this sport – well I’m sorry but you have to do it right all of the time. There has only been a few years in all these 36 years that I did not have a competition on the horizon, and the best advice I can give you – the absolute best that you can take away from this book is always be in shape.
Always be close to show shape. Now many may not agree with me here, I can hear all the negatives “how can you gain muscle being lean?” “I will lose strength, be weak and small”.
Honestly. There are only positives by doing this strategy.
The negatives are only mind contrived.
You think you cannot gain muscle whilst being lean so therefore you are reluctant to eat right, all the time. In fact your mind will talk you out of eating right all the time and talk you into eating that huge amount of food you really don’t need.
“I need to feed the muscle – I need to put a few pounds on so I can get bigger and then cut down for my next show”. Don’t do it.
You have plenty of years after you stop competing to eat what you want. If you want to be good at this sport, do it right.
Bulking is very old fashioned but many still do it today. I am all for old school and wholly agree with many of the old school training principles, and always have. But that said ‘back in the day’ bodybuilders did not have to be as conditioned as they have to now be. I’m not meaning pro bodybuilders and bodybuilders that compete in non-tested shows, even though at an amateur level they are very conditioned. But without a doubt, natural bodybuilders have to be absolutely shredded in today’s competitions. There are not many huge natural bodybuilders, there are some genetic freaks, but percentage wise, natural bodybuilders are “built” but not past their genetics.
So natural bodybuilders have to use their trump cards – shape, balance, good natural size and of course, condition and posing.
I remember reading a book years ago by Clarence Bass called Ripped, there was a section in the book that covered how at one point he had put a few pounds on, and while dieting hard to become ripped for a major competition. He worked out to have the same lean mass as his last competition or slightly more and still be as ripped he had 11 pounds of fat to lose.
That was 11 pounds – if his current lean mass gained stayed the same. Think this through – he would lose maybe a half-pound to a pound of muscle for every pound he lost of fat. So 11 pounds off, he would end up losing around 6 or 7 pounds of tissue also.
So he decided to use steroids to prevent much of the loss.
He still lost nearly 2 pounds of tissue for every 5 pounds he lost; even on steroids he still lost 5 pounds of tissue!
In further study by myself on the subject, I discovered that the body with or without drugs will lose a few pounds of muscle for every few pounds of fat. Percentage differs from person to person and obviously without drugs – being natural you will lose more muscle. So say you have to lose 20 pounds – how much muscle do you think you will lose? God I dare not think, but I bet it’s a fair amount, and you will probably end up back where you was bodyweight wise before you put all the weight on.
What was the point? All that stress all that hard, hard dieting, all of the cardio, if you did it, weeks and weeks of nearly starving yourself and seeing your size diminish before your eyes along with your strength in the gym. I’m telling you there is a better way.
I have done years of study on this – not only using myself as a test subject but hundreds of clients. Some of the most respected experts in the industry have also advised against bulking. But it falls on deaf ears when many need to call on their willpower.
The late great Mike Mentzer – said a whole lot in this one paragraph in his book Heavy Duty 1983 (available from Joanne Sharkey at mikementzer.com):
“Growth must first be stimulated through proper, high intensity training, then enough nutrients must be consumed to maintain existing physical mass, along with a little extra to provide for that negligible bit of growth that is being stimulated workout to workout.”
Arthur Jones who invented Nautilus machines and was an incredibly intelligent man would have his ‘trainees’ get lean first before he would have them embark on a muscle building programme.
“Bulking up was a complete waste of time effort and money,” he would say.
Chris Aceto – probably the most renowned and best diet coach in the world is always careful to not let his athletes get fat and always show definition while they gain muscle mass.
Every successful bodybuilder over the years I have had the pleasure to spend time with, all of them, had upmost control on their diets at all times. Sure there are genetic freaks that can be huge, even fat in the off-season, and still pull it together at show time. Well – they are few and far between; normal bodybuilders like us have to do this right, all of the time.
I never said this was easy – this book is not a ‘secrets book’ that will give you results without hard work.
On the contrary, the whole principal of this book is based on common sense – control, and dedication to being the best you can be. So if you want to be a bodybuilder – a competitive bodybuilder, you have to be in it 24/7, 365 days, whilst you are competing. When you retire from the sport, then you can still eat right all be it not as dialled in but to a level for life and the love of it.
LET’S DO THIS RIGHT
If you have to lose 20 pounds it’s far too much of a stress on the body and you will definitely be smaller this way than you would be if you held your weight within striking distance.
Let’s look at the common sense in this. If you only have 7 pounds to lose for a competition – you will at the least lose a couple of pounds of muscle. If any. I will get to this in detail but let me first start by saying you will also be able to build more muscle this way.
ADVANTAGES OF STAYING LEAN
There are many, let’s cover them here,
YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE THE GAINS YOU ARE MAKING.
If you have weak points you can work on them and actually see if what you are doing is working. Rather than trimming away a lot of fat and hoping for the best.
I have done the bulking thing, so I have seen this first hand.
I will give you an example.
I had weak shoulders and chest. I used to train hard and heavy and eat frigging loads of food. These areas bulked up and then I would diet and lose everything off these areas.
Here’s why. The last tissue built will be the first to go when losing a significant amount of weight.
Years later as I learnt and therefore kept lean. I would see my chest and shoulders build even while only being 5 to 7 pounds over show weight. Guess what – the tissue stayed there. So each year as I did show upon show those areas improved until they matched my back and arms. So therefore I started winning shows and eventually the worlds.
YOU WILL DEFINITELY BE TIGHTER.
When you have a good few pounds to lose you may get tight in 12 to 20 weeks, but not as tight as you will if you only have a few pounds to lose. Here is why.
Your skin will be tighter and pull around the muscle separation more, this is because it is already use to being tight to you. Sounds daft but it’s true. If you lose 20 or more pounds you will need time for your skin to adjust to the new frame. This is even truer as to head into your thirties and beyond.
You not only have body fat under the skin but also body fat that is marbled in-between muscle fibres.
If you’re dieting like mad to make show day you may get down in weight and rid yourself of external fat but not the fat that is glued in there. Being able to remove the inter-muscular fat, that fat that is in-between those separations and muscle fibres is key. This is what makes you look real hard, feel rock solid, and show striations. By staying lean your body has no need to start adding intermuscular fat to your frame.
YOU WILL BE FULLER AND FAR MORE RIPPED BY STAYING LEAN SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT LOST TISSUE.
You will not have had to cut calories back so much or done lots of cardio, so therefore you have more muscle.
So staying lean is key while you are a competitive bodybuilder.
EVEN IF YOU DON’T COMPETE. STAYING LEAN AND BEING IN SHAPE IS PARAMOUNT IN MY BOOK.
It’s healthy – as you are not doing huge swings in weight gain and loss. You also look good for life and can actually move and be able to do many other things.
So how do we work this into an off/in season plan in order for you to make gains from one show to the next and be your ultimate best?
SET YOUR STALL OUT
First of all you need to know your objective – your goal.
You may have never competed before, haven’t for a few years, or you competed last year and looking to take yourself to the next level.
We need to set a goal and work out a starting plan.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.
You may have trained for years and have a few pounds on you to be in show shape. If you have a goal of a show say a year away from now my suggestion would be start slowly coming down in weight over the next six months or until you can see some abdominal definition and muscle separation. Then, when you get to a weight that is within 7 to 10 pounds – 10 pounds being for the taller guy or girl – 7 and under being for short stuffs like me; hold that weight and train at that weight by keeping your calories steady and stable and really training hard.
We will go into detail of calories and balance in the next chapter but let’s keep going here.
Let’s say you’re on the lean side and have trouble putting on tissue then you have to balance food and energy expenditure even more.
You have to be on the ball, but all you will gain from your efforts is pure muscle. Again basic samples and plans to come.
You maybe are never coming in full enough or tight enough or both. So the key is you have to make sure you again balance food and be a pro. Yes do it like a pro – like you make a living from your sport from now until you next step on stage.
We know our current situation – all you need to do from now is decide on your goal.
Once you have that established you/we can set out on the journey towards that goal.
Now we can look at food balance and you will be able to take the first step towards the stage – building some quality tissue and being within striking distance of competition.
CHAPTER TWO – EAT TO GAIN
So, we have established that it is far better being lean all the time for many reasons, not just stepping on stage ripped. Now we have to know how to do this in each different scenario, let’s cover this.
OVERWEIGHT – GOAL TO COMPETE
You have maybe never competed before, or done so but have let the “bulking” go too far. This can happen for a number of reasons other than eating too much food, or the wrong foods.
No matter what the reason is, we can start it here with some very simple but highly effective strategies.
First goal we have to step up to is we have to get lean to be lean for competition; basically we have to get in good shape to be able to hit awesome shape. We need to be shooting somewhere near the target in order to hit bullseye on the day – our objectives are, in no particular order:
1/ We need to be leaner – alter body composition
2/ More muscle in the off/on season – gain tissue and hold tissue
3/ Make gains in weak areas – right training and recovery, nutrition
4/ Have a much higher functioning metabolism – so we don’t have to reduce calories too far closer to the show
1/ WE NEED TO BE LEANER – ALTER BODY COMPOSITION
To be leaner and have a much better body composition i.e. more muscle less body fat, we need to really step up to our nutrition to feed the tissue and increase fat loss.
Step one, we need to know what calories you are eating a day. Now, this is what you have eaten to put on this extra weight. So don’t skip anything you need to be honest – keep a little note pad with you, and for seven days write down everything you eat and drink.
You can also do this on an app on your phone whatever works for you.
We basically need to calorie count – on an app or notebook, or a calorie count book, although almost everything can be googled as well, so you have no excuse to not do this.
Let’s do this.
After seven days total your calories up for these days then divide them by seven. This will give you your daily average.
Something like this:
÷7 = 3713
This number is our daily average, note that calories were significantly bumped up at the weekend. Meals out, beer – Sunday lunch, bumped up the weekly total. So let’s say our daily average is 3700. Over time this amount of food has either been keeping our weight stable or slightly gaining some, as the weeks go by.
The amount of training you’re doing will I hope be building some tissue with that weight gain – but you are softer, and not as muscular as you should be, or would like to be.
To alter our body composition – lose fat and gain tissue, we need to work with these numbers now.
First off all we are not going to reduce calories, this may sound a little odd to you but stay with me here.
If you have been eating ok – some good food but with added rubbish – ‘cheat’ foods, there is a huge difference in rubbish foods and compared to clean foods and how your body processes it. Many people would say a calorie is a calorie and I would beg to differ. Take 3000 calories from sweets, pizza, and beer and eat that for a week verses 3000 of lean meat, chicken, turkey and rice. Obviously which is going to build tissue better? Which is going to help your metabolism build and which will make you feel – clean – tight – energised?
I think you have it.
So we are going to first of all take out the huge cheats at weekends and we are going to balance every day out the same with an average of 3700 calories. FROM ONLY CLEAN FOODS.
Here’s how we are going to do this.
First we are going to set out some baseline foods for you to eat. These will cover all we need to grow, get lean, and also be healthy.
Let us simply list them here:
||Nuts and Nut Butter
|Fish – includes salmon and tuna
||Oils – Olive, Flax
||Fats found in beef and fish, especially grass fed beef and salmon
|Yoghurt – is in all three
Now let me list the base calories of these foods, also protein and carbs.
All weights are cooked weights.
Now here I have listed the calories and protein the best I can as this can change a little regarding type of chicken or beef. Beef for instance can be a little different depending on the type of steak and how it was cooked, but you will not be far out at all with any of the above.
||1 slice, thick cut
||100g, dry weight
|Nuts –Fats and miscellaneous
|Nuts – cashews
|Peanut Butter, organic
DON’T SWEAT IT, IT’S EASY
I’m not huge on counting everything – yes I have listed all the basic foods here for you, protein, carbs, and calories, I have not listed fats as to be very honest with you I don’t count them at all. From these basic foods, fats will be relatively low anyway with only fats taken in naturally in meats and some nuts and not butters being part of the equation.
The simplest method for results I have found over the years is counting just one thing, focusing on that one component.
Whenever there is a goal and I need a focus point I focus on the basics, either I will count the calories or carbs, very rare have I ever counted protein. Only every now and then will I tot up protein just out of curiosity.
In order for us to gain tissue and lose fat your calories need to be bang on. They need to be baselined out as I mentioned earlier. We find your average and we work with that number day in day out.
Let’s keep with our example, 3700.
3700 calories has been keeping your weight stable and it is our starting point on this journey. Remember we need to lose fat and gain some muscle, basically alter our body composition so we are leaner before we embark on a show prep.
We take those calories and we use the food lists I have provided, and structure an eating plan that covers all our basic needs to serve hard training and everyday life.
The off season eating plan has a wider variety of foods so we are covering health, energy and the digestion and utilisation of many vitamins and minerals.
Try to eat as much organic as you can – to be the best you have to eat the best.
For absorption and stimulation of the metabolism it is better to eat little and often, every two to three hours works best, this will equate to three to four meals and a couple of snacks per day.
I have always been an advocate of eating all three components of food at the same time. Protein, carbs, and fats, at each meal. I even do this prior to a competition.
Well you gain better absorption of the meal and also the meal will not give you a fast ‘spike’ in energy and a drop, but will drip feed your body all day. As one meal is absorbed and utilised the next will soon be along. If you don’t eat with the ‘mix’ of foods many times you will have a drop in blood sugar and this can cause you to look for the wrong foods.
This conveyor belt type feedings is what makes your metabolism faster along with activity – training and muscle mass, as when you eat meals at regular times your body becomes a machine that runs at a higher level of efficiency. Eating sporadically, and huge amounts at any one time overburdens the body. Also, if the body has gone so long without food and you do this often your body will actually store some of those calories as fat, simply because you have no set pattern and it does not know if you will eat again in six hours or three days.
So regular meals spaced 2 to 3 hours apart is ideal for maximum gains and body composition.
I would suggest that you first count calories on this off/on season baseline-eating plan.
For illustration let’s stay with our 3700 calories a day, and work with that.
We have two ways of doing this; I have used both with huge success. The first here I like to call:
This, as you can guess, is the same day in day out, you plan out your eating plan, same foods same time every day and you stick to it, as simple as that, until changes need to be made.
OK let’s look at this, we work this out over the weekend; buy all the foods we need ready to make a start on Monday.
Here is our daily food list:
|2 scoop protein
||2 slices of wholemeal bread
||Salad, large mixed
||2 teaspoon Nut Butter
||Sweet potatoes 200g
||Whey protein 1 scoop
Sunflower seeds 25g
This is just a suggested meal plan, you can from the lists given make your own.
I have put the foods together as I see fit and how it would fit into my day.
I have made no mind to protein or carbs although they are there at each meal. Also note that I have different types of food, a wide variety of nutrients are covered here for greater repair and health. Especially if you eat organic – you will be giving your body the best materials to build with.
I have over the years experimented with protein intake – I am talking the amount of protein I consumed each day from food. There have been times I have eaten what would be considered a lot, and at other times hardly any.
At both ends of the scale there I have been in the best shape of my life. Eventually I understood there is a need for it regularly, but your body – your own system will tell you what is too much or too little. I have found clients eat to an appetite balance, like I said your body will tell you what is too much, if you bung up and not eliminating well it’s too high. You will tend to eat protein amounts as you always have, hard training will also switch your body to ask for more, you will grow to listen to your body and system.
All I did was think quality of food and calories being from the healthiest sources. As a show approached I watched carbs or calories and found that to be the best approach for clients and myself. We will move on to that later, let’s stay with this plan for now.
So we have a balanced diet covering protein fats and carbs at each sitting/meal and first and foremost it is clean and healthy. This eating plan along with some hard training and increased activity will bring about a body composition change.
So there you have Groundhog Day.
Same foods set out each day every day.
With this you know what you’re buying, what you’re cooking, and what you’re eating, each day. This then gives you the look you see in the mirror and how you perform in the gym.
All this comes from that food. You know exactly where you are.
I would eat the same foods; remember your choice set to your calories and the foods you like to eat.
After 3 weeks or so change your menu up and the foods around a little, and depending on how you look and how your performance in the gym plans – a body fat test can be a great tool, even in the off season (how to test is in the rear of the manual).
You can either stay on course with the calories or reduce or increase depending on body changes.
To help you decide on your own plan and to think about your food nutrition and time. This is how I structured the above.
Eggs start the day good they sustain me because of the fats in the Egg. They also slow down the carb digestion rate so my days get off to a good start.
Is very quick as I am busy around the house. If I am heading out it can also be taken with me and eaten anywhere. I bag up the nuts and fruit and put the pro in a shaker grab a water and I am on my way.
It covers all of the bases – protein, carbs in the fruit and the nuts offer good fats and calories that will also slow the whole meal down to balance blood sugar and sustain energy.
Again really easy to prep take anywhere or eat at home or work with very little prep. I could have the bread toasted or make a sandwich with the tuna. The salad will have lots of different colours and tastes and the bread will be wholemeal or seeded bread, and of course organic.
Yoghurt is a fantastic source of protein, carbs and fats. High in many amino acids and highly digestible not to mention good for your gut health.
Again easy prep while at work I like Nut Butter for added calories and good fats, mixed up it is a wonderful meal.
Family meal when the kids are home it’s clean and healthy, a sit at the table meal that has lean meat, potatoes, and good clean vegetables.
Very good nutrients to wrap up a great day at work or school. Again, protein fats and carbs lower in fats than some of the other meals because chicken is naturally low – beef could be your choice, or salmon.
We have chicken mostly because we like to cut it up and pan-fry it in a small amount of coconut oil.
An ideal meal before bed.
Yoghurt as I said is an awesome food to eat mixed with the seeds and berries is giving you excellent nutrition before bed, so your body can extract these nutrients while you sleep, aid recovery and repair as well as put good bacteria back into your gut ready for the next day’s feeding.
The alarm goes off….
… Ground hog day. Ha-ha
I have journals that go way back to when I was 16 years old each one tells a story of a journey for each year, treasured tatty note books, that not only tell a story but a huge amount of information about yourself.
Like I said, over the years I have used two main ways of keeping a log of my food intake. Even the years when I have not been bodybuilding and powerlifting for instance with no focus as such in nutrition balance I still wrote out my food each and every day – along with other notes training and business goals.
The other way of logging your food/calories is still very structured but not as structured as ground hog day.
This takes a little more day to day planning but works just as well; just go with what works with your lifestyle. Do what you can step up to the best. I chop and change between the two of these plans and they have worked for off-season and show prep, in keeping with my life and focus at the time.
Here is how I do a checklist.
I pick out the foods I want to eat and amounts for a day that balance out the calories I need. I also cover all food groups, protein, carbs and fats and just list out the total amounts, like so.
|Eggs x 6
|Chicken x 200g
|Sweet potatoes x 2 x 200g
|Bread, 2 slices
|Oats x 100g
|Yoghurt x 200g
|Cashew, nuts x 100g
|Dates x 100g
|Banana x 2
|Apples x 2
|Whey protein x 2 scoop
|Nut Butter 2 teaspoon
Again we have balanced out at our 3700 calories a day from earlier. Once we have this ‘check list’ jotted down all we do each day is we eat a meal and tick off the food eaten. Very simple but highly effective. Each day you know you have eaten that amount of food – calories, protein, carbs, and good fats. The foods are balanced with something from all groups very healthy and cover all we need to build tissue and alter body composition.
When I do this checklist system I can mix my meals however I want and I really enjoy it, here is an idea.
||3 Eggs, Oats, 1 Banana
||1 Scoop Whey, 1 Banana, 1 Apple
||Chicken 200, 1 x 100g Sweet Potato, Vegetables, Yoghurt 200g
||1 Scoop Whey Protein, 100g Nuts, 100g Dates
||Eggs x 3, Toast x 2, 1 x 100g Sweet Potato, Vegetables
||1 Scoop Whey Protein, 2 Spoon Nut Butter, 1 Apple
All I have done here is gone about my day and ticked off the food I have had as I have eaten it. This can be done in countless ways all mixed and matched, all I ask is that you have protein fats and carbs at each sitting, it’s that simple. As you can also see some of the totals can be split if you like.
I did this with Eggs in my day and also my final sittings. Another day maybe completely different maybe Eggs for breakfast, lunch and then chicken for tea. It’s your choice, the calories are set to you and your protein to your appetite and taste, carbs again just set to your appetite. Clean foods balanced out at your calories and some hard work in the gym will create the first change we need in body composition, less fat and more muscle.
2/ MORE MUSCLE IN THE OFF/ON SEASON – GAIN TISSUE, HOLD TISSUE
I have touched on this a little already, but let’s cover this objective a little further.
Time between shows is very important, it should never be wasted it’s not a time to relax and take things easy. No, it’s work time it’s time to improve when hard training and good food can increase lean muscle mass.
We have covered how staying lean can help you keep tissue when you diet. If you’re already lean or have now become leaner within striking distance of a competition, this is simply how we now gain tissue.
First and foremost we need to…
Train harder – this we will get into in ‘training to gain’ but this is very important obviously. Tissue just does not appear by magic we then need to rest and feed that hard training.
Food has to be bang on all the time. That tissue – that body, that muscle, needs to be maintained with food and enough water.
So as we did before/explained earlier we need to set out a base-line eating plan.
Once we have this established this, we need to add only a small amount of calories to that base line to be able to build the new muscle stimulated in our hard training.
This is how I have done this over the years and with clients.
So we are lean.
We want to grow tissue without gaining body fat or very little fat, let’s stick with our 3700-calorie day.
We are eating this amount day in day out week after week. Things are on point. Training is hard, weights are going up, intensity is there and there are some good aches but recovery is also good.
The last few weeks have seen you stay the same weight but you actually look a little leaner – sometimes you feel a little flat and you feel hungry some days.
This to me shows your training is demanding more calories; you have got a little leaner as the body under really hard stress from training and will rob calories from fat cells in order to build tissue. But at the same time it does not want to become too lean with the amount of work fully asked of it. This is why we need to ‘feed the machine’.
Take your 3700 and add 300 to it across the board from all food groups. This is easy. Extra Banana – 1 more Egg – 1 spoon of Nut Butter – approx. 300, easy.
Now hold these 4000 calories for a few weeks – monitor your weight and condition if your weight goes up and you show no signs of smoothing out things are bang on. Watching the scales, mirror, and even using callipers can keep you on the right path.
If after a few weeks you still feel like your metabolism is running away with you or you haven’t gained new tissue go ahead and add some more calories from across the board – protein, carbs and fats, add in another 200 or 300 and again hold for a few weeks.
I have done this technique many times with awesome results. Using my example here is this is how I balanced out each muscle gain.
As the years went by in the off season I would gain some tissue but then my body would seem to top out and although I have gained a few pounds it would not gain any more without it smoothing out somewhat. It’s as if I had maxed out at strength gains and muscle tissue. All I would do then is hold my new weight for months – same calories – same foods for months and still keep pushing hard. Soon that new weight would become my new set point (your body has a set point for ‘each of your weights’) in time this new weight would start to look hard – fuller and sharper – in as if I used the little bit of fat gained to gain some new tissue, and my body got used to holding more muscle and holding a lower fat level (new set point).
This you can do until you reach your natural size potential. We know some people have better genetics and can build more muscle than others. But that said – starting out this sport you don’t know what your potential is. Again, using my example I started training at my present height at 14 with weights after years of various sports and activity and was muscular and very ripped even at 14 and weighed all of 80 pounds. By the time I reached 20 or so I weighed a competition lean 145 – 150. Yes believe it or not some 70 pounds of tissue. It took around 6 years to build it, most of it being in the first few years. But I have trained all my life and never weighed more than 165 (bulking days!!) or so and competed at 145 – 148 pounds at my best, and looked massively different in size and condition even though weighing the same as I did as a kid. It’s the quality of every pound placed correctly on the body that made a huge difference later in life.
So, if you’re new to this sport, ride that growth spurt and if you have been at the front line for years, you already train hard and eat right, the balance of building some new tissue is very hard. Everything has to be right, food water, and the catalyst of it all, training. Your training has to stimulate new tissue and be hard enough to keep the new tissue.
You will find after years of training you are just topping off that first few % of tissue all the time. To bring you to the ultimate in size (for you) and fullness and also leanness, takes dedicated work.
Throughout your years as life and work gets in the way you will bounce in and out of that ‘top shape’ point in life. And when things are in line, life’s good and you have the motivation to pull a show out of the bag you reach a peak, and that’s an awesome feeling and also very rewarding.
WRAP UP ON THIS POINT
Train hard – very hard to trigger growth
Keep a close eye on tissue gained, use the scales mirror and callipers
Step up in weight – hold a weight – step up again – let a new weight become a set point
New trainers have exciting times and gains ahead
Advanced trainers, gains are slower but they are there. If you do things right, don’t cut corners give 100% to your goal when you want to top out those gains and peak.
3/ MAKE GAINS IN WEAK AREAS – RIGHT TRAINING AND RECOVERY NUTRITION
I have just mentioned how when you have been training for a number of years you note that you will have periods of a ‘top off’ point. Those times in your training life whereupon you reach a point in your physique – strength and fitness, that is a high point, I won’t say peak as this is even higher of a point to hit.
This high is one of those times when your training and food is more on point than normal. This can be because it is a time in your life, where work, stress, life, worry – are all controlled and in a good place and therefore so are you. This is a time to reach for a new high; you have the energy and resources to really step up. Unfortunately this does not happen all the time so ride it well and enjoy it. I say unfortunately, because we are normal people with responsibilities, but we can be on point as much as we can – it just takes planning and commitment, and when this time does crop up in life, allowing you more ‘you’ time, you need to enjoy it, take advantage and reach for a new high, then you can maintain those new gains when life is more normal. Essentially maintaining a little balance to your new high point in your training life.
These times are also ideal times to bring up weak points, weak points are notorious at dropping off your body when lift gets you down a little. Working over late, miss meals, miss a workout and sure enough the weak points take the brunt of the muscle loss.
Weak points first and foremost have to be trained right and I will get into this in the training chapter. So let’s cover here – feeding the weak area/areas right.
If you are trying to bring up a weak point on your body this area needs to be treated like a baby I’m afraid.
It first needs to be stimulated right, then it has to be fed and rested. Food and calories need to be on point as much as you can. You are always playing a game here, always trying to keep ahead of that body part not wanting to stay on your physique. You have to never give the body chance to lose it. Sounds daft I know but this is how the body works, if you don’t use that area regularly, i.e. stimulate it so it overcompensates or holds the tissue, it will shrink somewhat. So whack it hard feed it, always on it. Always on point with food water and training
So holding tissue on the body – lean tissue not just in weak points but all the body needs work and planning. Don’t stress over this though, this simply means – make your meals – pack them, eat them on time, drink your water, and train hard.
Fit this into the life you lead – if you are busy all day and travel a lot, or work in an office, you need your meals with you. There is no excuse not to have meals prepared and ready – no matter how busy you think you are. Either cook on an evening or early morning just do it and think nothing more of it. I used to get home at 8.30 – 9 on an evening and just put my bag down and get to work cooking my next day’s meals, cooking one chicken breast is the same as cooking six – baked potatoes just need sticking in the oven, vegetables take ten minutes, then it takes five minutes to box it all up.
Again, don’t think and stress about it, too tired – busy day at work need to sit down – on and on – just do it.
If you want to be good at this sport – do the groundwork. Remember off-season is on it season – the better you eat now the better you will look next time on stage.
Weak points need the attention they deserve.
POST WORK OUT
The post workout period, whether it be in weak-point training or all the body needs to be never missed.
It is an essential part of your overall gains and recovery.
THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
I have used this technique most of my training life. It is incredibly effective.
The window of opportunity is the time period before and after you train. These times need to ‘book end’ right in order for you to gain the most from your training efforts. Recovery needs to follow hard training, without recovery there will be no gains no matter how hard you hit the gym. This technique aids recovery massively, I honestly cannot remember a workout whereupon I did not do this I believe in its effectiveness so much.
Let’s first run it out here for you.
About an hour and a half to two hours before training, do not eat a normal meal, as this will interfere with our window of opportunity. Fifteen to twenty minutes before hitting the iron have a small carbohydrate drink or very small easily digested snack, high in carbs like I do – Egg Whites and Banana. Yuck I hear you say.
Bear with me.
4 – 6 Egg Whites in a bowl, chopped up Banana in there, whisk.
Cook in a microwave for 2 mins.
Cook again for 1 minute.
Cinnamon to taste.
I love it – try it.
It’s fast acting protein – fast carbs that are readily available for the session to come – easily digested so the meal does not interfere with the after workout nutrition.
The reason I said no meals is because we need a clear runway for carbs and aminos right after the workout, we don’t need anything blocking our fast highway to recovery and muscle uptake of carbs and amino acids.
You see the window of opportunity is open for 20-30 minutes prior to training, and in my opinion only for an hour after you workout. I have worked on this point for years and have noted this.
When you have trained your body is screaming out for carbs and aminos for repair. Until your body is back to where it was prior to you hitting the iron it will not trigger the recovery process, so missing this point could seriously set you back days.
Think about this, so when you come to train again you have not even recovered. No recovery, no gains – you are always in a deficit.
Now I have your attention, carbs or a small meal before training, carbs and BCAAs after.
Here is the technique in a nutshell.
20 -30 minutes before training – your choices are:
4 – 6 Egg Whites and a Banana
30 – 40g of maltodextrin powder mixed in water – 3-4 BCAA capsules
Apple juice – around 200 mil, 3 to 4 BCAA
After training wait 15 minutes or so, so your body has chance to calm down.
Then your choices are:
All Sports amino load – ideal product – 3 to 4 BCAA
50 to 70g of maltodextrin – 3 to 4 BCAA
4 to 6 caramel snack a jack rice cakes – water and 3 to 4 BCAA
Hydrolysed whey in water 2 scoops – 1 bagel plain
Now the above is your every day off/on season plan.
As a show approaches there is a higher level to this. I save this for a show, as we need it when we are on a higher level of work and condition.
This strategy works like you would not believe.
You will aid recovery by some 60% – this equals gains, it is a critical point of your success as a natural bodybuilder.
Remember you need to replace and replenish the body before it even starts to work on muscle recovery and growth. You need carbs, fast digesting also protein (hydrolysed whey or isolate) in as soon as you can after training, also plenty of fluids.
One more point –I do not count these training calories in my daily total –they are there to replenish and recover me.
WRAP UP THIS POINT
Be on the ball – on point with your food – prep and make sure you’re never without your meal. Sometimes life will get in the way of you eating – that’s not your fault – but having no meal with you is!
Weak points need to be given attention not only in training but also by feeding them – try not to stress, always keep holding the areas up with the right food and rest.
The window of opportunity is critical; never miss this point in your training life.
4/HAVE A MUCH HIGHER FUCTIONING METABOLISM
You can without a doubt build your metabolism. The metabolism, let’s keep this simple is rate at which you burn calories. The rate at which the body utilises the food you feed it. Again, let’s keep this simple, those with a high metabolism can eat more and are generally leaner. Those with slower a ‘tick over rate’ will gain weight easy – and have to eat next to nothing to loose weight.
So how do we build our metabolism? Can it be done?
The answer is yes it is easy to do and of course.
All of the above mentioned in this chapter will build your metabolism.
Keeping Track Of Your Food Intake
Slowly Increasing Food As The Body Needs It Through Hard Training
The More Lean Tissue You Have And Lower Your BF Percent In The Off/On Season The Higher The ‘Tick Over Rate’
Let us look again at bulking and the lean approach and the effect on the metabolism.
Let’s say body-builder one has a medium tick over rate.
He decides he is going to get huge and eats everything in site.
Some good stuff but also lots of crap, he also has no idea the amount of calories he in-gests each day. Sure he trains hard and heavy but after the body has absorbed and utilised the building blocks it needs for recovery and growth the excess is shunted into fat cells.
Months go by until there is some serious weight to loose as he now undertakes a prep.
At first cutting back shows some weight loss. But as the weeks tick by the once bulky looking lad (in his clothes) is showing signs of muscle loss along with the fat, this is Mother Nature. Like I said for every big clump of fat you have to loose you will loose muscle as well.
The week’s click by – the show is on the horizon and our ‘bulker’ is now doing two a day CV sessions and hardly eating any food. This is because the metabolism has dropped like a stone. Not to mention the stress the body perceives all this to be and further shuts down bodily functions.
But to make it to condition he further cuts food and is now like a zombie, training takes all he has, each week he finds he is weaker.
Further muscle loss is now inevitable – you know ‘use it or loose it’- so the metabolism becomes ever slower – shot to bits.
On a wing and a prayer he makes the show.
That night after the show he eats everything in site – and cannot slow down as the days tick by. Ten days in and he is 20 pounds up – back to just about where he started – but with much much less muscle.
The metabolism my take a year to recover – if it ever does.
I hardly have to explain this the above makes you see this like a blinding light.
Our guy has built his metabolic rate up slowly for months.
He Eats Clean
He Journals Everything
Slowly Adds Calories Every Few Weeks Only By 2- 3 Hundred
If He Sees To Much Of A Loss In Look – He Sticks His Calories And Holds Until The Body Sets It And Hardens
Show prep begins, and at this point our guy is eating 4500 calories a day and is in great shape lean and strong. His first point of action is a reduction in calories by 200 and to train a little faster.
This right away shows an increase in definition, hardly having anything to loose fat wise, can you see how our guy is hardly going to have to cut back?
To wrap this up, because I think you see this now.
He Will Hardly Have To Cut Food
By The End Of The Prep He May Still Be Eating 3000 Calories
No CV – He Had No Need
No Strength Loss
So He Kept Muscle
So The Metabolic Rate Was High
Body Not Stressed
Fuller And More Ripped At Show
God it’s a no brainer.