Hi again everyone,
Here we are then for another blog from CW's bodybuilding world with a measly 2 weeks or so till my 50th contest! Last week I addressed what motivates me to stay lean year round so this time I would like to touch on what drives me to keep training in the gym as hard as I do.
First of all I have worked out in a gym all my adult life and have managed to integrate it into my everyday routine. I find it to be a great stress reliever after my working day trying to teach teenagers Mathematics. It has always been a great way to clear my head so to speak. What ever was bothering me before the workout is usually gone by the end! I just love those good-mood brain chemicals released by weight training and cardio.
Secondly, I have always enjoyed the feeling of being strong and find it very inspiring when I go into the gym and beat a personal best, even if only by a little bit or with more reps on a given weight. That spurs me on to try and better myself each time I train, sometimes obviously that doesn't happen but at least I know that occasionally it does and that is very motivating.
Finally, the way the you look after a great workout when you get that awesome pump in the associated muscle group you are training just feels so satisfying and is something you crave for each and every time you train, it's just that some times it is better than others!
There are so many benefits to a great gym workout and I have only mentioned a few, all I know is that it is nice to have this to fall back on when other aspects of your life might not be going quite so well. The gym has always been my best buddy and a reliable constant for me that is for sure!
Exercise of the Week
One of the exercises I have alluded to in my HIT Hamstrings & Calves workout is the stiff-legged deadlift. This is a very gruelling exercise on a par with full squats and is great for stimulating growth all over your body with the effect it has on your Central Nervous System.
The variation I do is the one advocated Stuart McRobert and Dorian Yates. It is safer on your lower back but still really taxes your hamstrings with an excellent isometric contraction.
I like to grip the bar with one hand under and the other over. This is a very strong grip when going heavy on the last couple of sets. Your feet should be about 20cm apart and pointing straight ahead with your knees slightly bent.
Lower the bar whilst maintaining the angle with your knees to a point where the bar is midway between your knees and your feet. Make sure you watch yourself in the mirror whilst doing the movement so as to keep your back flat. This will give you a great stretch in your hamstrings and glutes as well as working many of the muscles in your back musculature.
Chris, Mark and I had a great session with these last week with only 2 and a bit weeks to my next contest, I still managed to crank out 8 reps with 180kg and was stoked that my strength levels are still going well. As I mentioned earlier this feeling of strength and power is very motivating and most definitely spurs you on with your training in the gym.
No hamstring workout is complete without them!
Supa Food Friday lives on!
The last two Fridays have been outstanding cheat meals with my good buddy Big Les. Last week's menu looked something like this:
Course 1: Les' Supa soup made up of broccoli, leek and pumpkin with a stock made from fresh with chicken carcasses. Finished off with a generous dollop of sour cream with salt and white pepper. All this accompanied by a nice bottle of sparkling red from the South West of WA!
Course 2: My mixed grill protein-mania comprising 300g T-bone steaks, NZ chilli mussels, blue vein cheese, fig & fennel paste, pork pies and mini brushettas.
Course 3: Magnum Gold and Almond icecreams.
Course 4: Mini Crunchies, Bountys, expresso coffee and a Brandy digestive!
That was officially the last full on cheat before my next show with the next deviation involving the soup and protein overload only...minus the crazy carb desserts!!
Alternatives to Cheat Meals!
The other nice deviation I like to do with my eating is to occasionally incorporate what I call 'replacement meals'. A kebab on a plate always goes well where the Lebanese bread is omitted but everything else including the meat and salads are either on a plate or in a box with whatever sauces I feel like at the time. The same thing can be done at Subway with a meat and salad plate.
Nando's is also a great alternative with their spicy chilli sauces. At the end of the day chilli is a fat burning herb after all!!
If I am going out to a Restaurant for dinner I will simply have a nice lean steak and steamed vegetables. I will even allow myself an entree providing it is primarily lean protein and very low carb (eg: prawn cocktails, calamari, oysters, etc).
Final Presentation Tips & Ideas
We all know how long it takes to prepare your physique for those 15 or 20 minutes onstage with the food preparation, cardio, training in the gym, posing practice and the list goes on. Unfortunately many competitors put all this emphasis into their body and look sensational but neglect to pay attention to the finer details of presentation when getting ready for the big stage.
The posing trunks are crucial and can really make a difference to the way you present yourself. They need to be nice and tight with that Y-shape from the front. The sides of the trunks should sit just under your obliques as the distance from the there to your lat insertion needs to be minimized to emphasize your V shape and width. When the sides of the trunks drop down too low it makes your upper torso look too long and really upsets your symmetry. The posing trunks should also be attractive to look at without being too distracting. Be careful when choosing the fabric as the tan can ruin the look of your trunks if smeared all over them. I find personally, having tried all types of materials over the years, that the velvet Lycra and metallic Lycra sits really well on your skin and unbelievably tends to repel the tan! My fantastic posing trunks tailor in South Australia, Susie Jones, is the lady to get in touch with if you want the best trunks. She has loads of swatches of fabric for you to choose from and can adjust the style and fit to suit your own personal preferences. Suzie can be contacted on 0422 252 168
. Her prices are very reasonable too!
This brings me then to the stage tan. This can make the difference between winning and losing yet so many people don't do their research on this, leave it to the last minute and end up looking either white as a ghost onstage or too dark with the tan running all over the place when you start sweating under those bright stage lights. I have found that 2 applications of Contest Colour drying each coat with a hair dryer on the morning of the show is easily enough to give you a dark base tan. Don't worry if it is patchy as the top coat will even it up. And then about 1 hour before getting onstage apply the top coat. There are several top coats on the market. I prefer the oil-based Dream Tan as that stays on if you perspire a lot. If you don't sweat too much then the water-based Body Shimmer, Final Coat or Pro Tan also works well. These top coats will then give you that shiny bronze statue look that you really need to create so as to maximize your muscularity. Whatever you do don't spray cooking oil on your top coat as this may drag it off and make you look too shiny which in turn may blur your definition. I find a fine Hair Spray (not lacquer) works well as it helps set the tan in and prevent it from being too wet. Coincidentally the Pantene Bodybuilding Hair Spray from the supermarket seems to be just right for this job!! DO NOT put clothes back on at this point as that will drag the tan and it's sheen off. Just stand and relax letting the top coat dry and set. You will then need to pump up and get ready to rock and roll for the pre-judging!!
The next thing I need to address at this point is your face! Yes your face is just as important as the rest of your body as this is where you connect with the crowd and let them know just how much you are enjoying the whole process, how confident you are and general expressions in keeping with the theme of your chosen posing routine to music. Too many competitors forget about their face and end up smearing the top coat all over it which always ends up looking disastrous. When they do this their head ends up merging with their body, symmetry is comprised and facial expression is very hard to see!! The ladies always look great facially with their foundation make-up, we blokes need to learn from this and apply the same principle. I don't mean mascara, eye shadow and lipstick, I am saying that from experience the very dark foundation when applied all over your face to the jaw line only really does look good and allows you connect better with the audience with visible facial expressions. I get the Maybelline Matte Mousse from Priceline, the Dark Cocoa number 3 is perfect for matching with the dark top coat formulas.
Your hair should also be well groomed and not too long, remember the old adage..."smaller head = bigger body".
I always get comments about my sapphire blue contact lenses I wear on contest day, these are the icing on the cake and really do show up under those bright lights!!
Finally make sure that your facial expressions on stage clearly let people know you are enjoying yourself up there. Too many people just look miserable as though they want it to be all over and finished with. The audience will be drawn to you if you look happy and confident and guess what, so will the judges, and that can't be a bad thing can it!!??
When I am packing my bags for interstate contests I always ask myself "what is it that I cannot forget so as to do my show??" The answer is always...tan, trunks and music CD!! So I even make sure that my CD I submit at registration is well presented with clear instructions on it as to who I am, what division I propose to enter and whether I am starting on-stage or off-stage!
Not long now!
Less than 3 weeks to go and I am still feeling quite strong even though my carbs are at their lowest and cardio is at it's highest. As I say to my clients, this is the business end of the prep and if it was easy then everyone would be doing it! I am looking forward to strutting my stuff on-stage and again having some fun with my free posing routine. And at this point it is so important to just focus on what you are doing and how you are looking and not worry about who you might be competing against. This is out of your control and will just mess your mind up if you dwell on it too much. Concentrate solely on being the best YOU can be and enjoy the whole journey leading up, whilst on-stage and after the show with the celebrations and reflections and perhaps the creation of a plan to be even better the next time you get up there!!
All the very best till next time we meet in this social medium and hopefully we might even cross paths at one of the upcoming September and/or October contests!
Kind regards, Craig W.