When you peak bodybuilders for contests, how long do you usually recommend them to begin? - Jon H., NY, NY
Hey Jon, I usually require all guys and gals to begin dieting 20 weeks out from the contest, no matter how much weight he or she has to drop. I do this for two reasons. First, it gives us plenty of time to be completely ready with 3-4 weeks left before the show so we can increase calories slightly as we go so we can increase fullness and get even harder and more dense. Secondly, through my experience I can say the longer you diet the more grainy, hard and separated you become.
You start to lose bodyfat in the crevices between muscles and ligaments. That's why if you compete multiple times in one season you will almost always look better at the later shows! Depending on the client's metabolism, I will manipulate cardio and carbs to make sure he or she holds on to as much muscle as possibly while dieting. It's always easier to start early versus sprinting to the finish line in 12 weeks. When you're dieting and competing to look your best, 20 weeks isn't a super long time!
I heard you experimented with some full body routines lately. Is that true? What did you think? - Tom K., North Carolina
It's true Tom, I had been speaking to my old buddy Sal who was doing a lot of research into Arthur Jones and the full body routines he advocated. Sal was coming back to working out after a 4 year lay off and I was impressed with his continuous strength increases. I decided to tweak what he was doing, and do my whole body 3 times a week. But each workout had different rep ranges and focus. For example, on Saturdays I did:
- Flat bench barbell press - 1 set to failure in 10 range.
- Incline flyes - 1 set to failure x 10.
- Chest down on incline bench T bar rows - 1 set to failure x 10-12.
- Decline pullovers - 1 set to failure x 10.
- Standing shoulder presses - 1 set x 10.
- Side laterals - 1 set x 10.
- Alternating dumbbell curls - 1 set fail x 10.
- Close grip dumbbell bench press - 1 set x 10.
- Squats - 1 set x 10.
- Seated leg curl - 1 set x 8-10.
- Calf raise - 3 sets to failure x 10.
On Tuesday I did a power focus and did it this way
- Squats - 5 reps few work sets.
- Trap bar deadlifts - 2 sets 1 x 5 1 x 3.
- Incline dumbbell bench press - 1 set x 5-6.
- Standing shoulder press - 1 set x 5.
- Barbell curls - 1 set x 5.
- Close grip bench press - 1 set x 5.
Thursday was a leg focus
- Smith squats - 5 sets x 15.
- Hack squats - 3 sets x 12.
- Leg extensions - 1 set x 12.
- Seated leg curls - 1 set x 12.
- Standing leg curls - 1 set x 15.
- Calf press on leg press - 3 sets x 20.
- Incline hammer press - 1 set x 12.
- Bent over rows - 2 work sets x 10.
- Side laterals - 3 sets to failure x 12-15.
- Rear shoulder machine - 1 set x 15.
- Cable curls - 1 set x 12.
- Dumbbell skull crushers - A few sets x 15.
I would throw abs in also on each day.
- Tuesday - Power upper.
- Wednesday - Power lower and deadlifts.
- Thursday - Off.
- Friday - Intense chest/back.
- Saturday - Intense legs.
- Sunday - Intense shoulders and arms.
I really liked the whole body routine and I think beginners and intermediates will benefit tremendously from it, and advanced trainers will get a nice shock to their body if they do this 4-6 weeks. You do have to be careful with inflammation and tendinitis. You can experiment with rep ranges and volume.
How did you get into bodybuilding? - Tom T., Berlin, WI
I started working out seriously in 1992. When I was younger my brother Rich worked out in our basement with a home gym he built when he was about 16. I Begged him for years to show me how to work out, lol. He gave in when I was about 14 and showed me the basics. I worked out in my teens for a few years on and off. If you include those earlier years then I really been training since 1988, but I didn't get serious until 1992, my senior year in high school.
In High School my good friend Alberto competed in a contest, and after watching the video of him competing and seeing the pictures, my interested was heightened! Also, Alberto told me to turn on ESPN one night around midnight and check out this show "American Muscle Magazine". I woke up at 12, set my VCR up and decided I would watch 5 minutes and go back to bed. But as I began watching I was MESMERIZED!
The show was unbelievable! They had contest coverage, bodybuilder star profiles, nutrition tips, supplements reviews and a lot more! That was it for me. I became a bonafied meat head from that point on, lol! So you could say I had three major influences that got me involved in bodybuilding!