I hope you have all been well and that your training is continuing to go from strength to strength. I have been absent from blogging so far this year due to the usual busy work commitments so it's nice to finally put together my 33rd blog via the awesome ANB Australia website.
Our wonderful, hard working ANB Victoria EL Presidente, Maria McCarter, asked me to address the topic of 'post-contest blues', which is definitely worth discussing as season A draws to a close.
In my earlier competitive days I used to feel a definite lack of focus and drive after a bodybuilding contest and would have that sense of feeling somewhat lost. My drive to train at the gym never waned I just missed being 'in the contest prep zone' so to speak.
Now I always knew that the key to being focused was to set goals, so what I did was to create an offseason plan. This plan evolved over several seasons and followed these chronological steps:
• After the contest be sure to have a few weeks of eating what you like interspersed with meals similar to what you were eating whilst in pre-contest mode.
• Always remember the post-contest rebound or mini growth spurt you get when you cut back the cardio, get extra rest and recovery time all combined with the slight increase in calories. So with this, I feel it is very important to keep going to the gym straight after your show to avail yourself of this great opportunity. Instead of training say 5 days a week, I have cut this back to 3 or 4 days and have made some great gains in doing so. And this rebound period could potentially continue for anywhere from 4-6 weeks.
• During this post contest rebound phase I have purposefully gathered all my stage photos, DVD's, judge's feedback and photos from friends so as to critically analyse my physique in terms of what I need to do next time around in order to be a better version of myself. This would then involve adjustments to my training which in turn would increase my enthusiasm to get back in the gym.
• It is also important to not let yourself go in terms of your condition. One quick way to lose focus and suffer from the blues is put on too much body fat too soon. My favourite old adage "look good, feel good, am good" rings true here. I'm not talking about staying ripped, I am merely suggesting that not drifting over 10-12% body fat would be a great way to still stay in good shape whilst trying to add quality lean muscle mass to your physique. And then when you see the changes to your frame this in turn will spur you on to maintaining some focus. And, you will be surprised at how good you will look with some extra muscle whilst still being relatively lean, most people prefer this look, so expect lots of positive feedback...some people may even accuse you of using performance enhancing substances!!
• As your metabolism starts to slow down somewhat I feel it is again very important to introduce some cardio back into your weekly regime. But not too much. This is where just three 20 minutes sessions of HIIT cardio per week works really well. I always base my HIIT on 8 thirty second sprints during the 20 minutes. And to prevent monotony this could be performed on different pieces of cardio equipment. In my house I have a lifecycle and stationary bike in my bedroom, so I can watch TV, as well as a cross trainer in my spare bedroom. It's only 20 minutes and the time goes very quickly because you are mindful of the clock as to when you sprint versus 'cruise'.
• The other reason for suggesting HIIT cardio is that it will enhance your ability to add muscle due to the GH release you get after the event. You also feel like 'King' afterwards from the endorphins your brain's chemistry will produce.
• After a couple of months now is the time to take a well earned break from the gym. For me, being a gym junkie, that might be only 5-7 days. In any case, a trip away, perhaps to a rural region staying in a farm chalet or interstate trip residing in a nice hotel is a great way to recharge the batteries from a different stand point. In any case it is a good idea to somehow remove yourself from your day to day environment for a while.
• After your little holiday you should then feel like getting back into the gym to launch into another offseason assault in bringing up those weaker body parts so as to turn some heads, hopefully the judges, the next time you decide to strut your stuff on stage again! And at this time start checking out all the federations websites, pull out your calendar and mark down the contests you wish to have a crack at in your next bodybuilding season.
Dave Palumbo's Diet Guru Seminar
As you may recall from previous blogs I have mentioned RxMuscle.com CEO, Dave Palumbo, and his informative & entertaining 'Heavy Muscle Radio Show' as an absolute must listen for all those passionate about the Bodybuilding industry. Recently, via RxMuscle.com, I have been watching Dave's 'Heavy Muscle TV Show', 'Muscle in the Morning', 'Ask Dave' and 'Iron Debate' programmes. These are also really interesting shows to watch whenever you feel like visiting the website and checking them out.
Whilst watching these shows it came to my attention that Dave was venturing down under to Australia on June 13 to do one of his exclusive "How to become a Diet Guru" Seminars in Sydney at the Boutique Castlereigh Hotel. I emailed Dave for the details and thought WOW this could be an amazing experience and a way to glean some knowledge from a man with over 30 years experience in our industry. What big Dave doesn't know about our sport isn't worth knowing!! Anyway, I booked my spot, organised my airfares from WA, booked a room in the same hotel and headed East for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
We should always be open to new ideas, fresh approaches and different opinions. I knew that this would be an ideal way to beef up my credentials as a contest prep consultant simply by learning from the maestro himself...after all "Knowledge is Power"!!!
CW's Annoying Knee Injury
For those of you that may not be aware I hurt my knee whilst performing narrow stance leg press with my feet low on the platform some time ago now. This has prevented me from competing due to the need cut back on cardio so as to give the joint some healing time.
I am still training legs quite effectively but had to think about a plan of attack to work through the injury.
My usual weekly training split involves two leg sessions being hamstrings & calves on one day followed by quads & calves later in the week.
I decided to amalgamate the two workouts into one as follows:
1. Cybex Lying Leg Curls
2. Stiff Legged Deadlifts
3. Wide Stance Super Squats
4. Leg Press (toes turned out, feet high on the platform, to 90 degrees only)
5. Leg Extensions (high reps, no lock out, 3-4 second negatives)
6. Technogym Calf Presses
7. Seated Calf Raises
This workout is a great way to to warm up the knee joints by doing hamstrings first so that by the time you get to quads you are ready to go with better prepared knee joints.
I also listened to the advice of my good mate Torrie, who suggested I purchase some Rehband knee supports and wear them during the entire workout. These are terrific and really make a difference in keeping those joints nice and warm.
And finally, I took on Dave Palumbo's suggestion, by adding MSM powder to my fish oil & Glucosamine Sulphate arsenal. These are definitely the big 3 supplements for reducing inflammation in the joints as well as helping promote cartilage repair.
Hopefully, the injury will now heal itself, so that CW can make a potential return to the stage in May next year :-)))
Tweaking CW's Macros
Following Dave Palumbo's awesome 10 hour seminar in Sydney I was inspired to make a small change to my daily macro nutrient ratio.
For several years I have found that the PCF ratio of 50:30:20 has worked quite well. We all know that essential fats are a positive partitioning agent that can help move nutrients to where there need to go in terms of the muscle cell. They also act as a great anti-inflammatory tool, important for brain function, necessary for optimum testosterone levels, can lower cholesterol and be used as a source of fuel.
And of course proteins being the building blocks of life are critical for growth and repair.
Carbohydrates, particularly low GI types, are also important but mainly as a source of fuel and fibre.
Sugars, being a very poor example of high GI carbohydrates, are a negative partitioning agent that take glycogen to where you don't want it to go, namely the fat cells. They are also the prime suspect in promoting plaque build up of the coronary arteries as a result of the big spikes in insulin.
So for me I will trial for some more EFA's from raw nuts, macadamia oil, virgin olive oil, whole eggs, evening primrose oil and fish oil.
I will simultaneously attempt to remove sugars from my diet whilst consuming low GI carb sources like rolled oats and sweet sweet potato early in the day and at lunchtime for a nice slow trickle of fuel for work and training in the gym.
My overall goal is to slowly lose body fat whilst still trying to add lean tissue.
The six meals will look something like this:
Meal 1: 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 tablespoon macadamia oil, 2 scoops whey protein isolate [P 50g, C 45g, F 20g]
Meal 2: 4 whole eggs [P 36g, F 32g]
Meal 3: 250g chicken breast, broccoli, sweet potato, 1/2 an avocado [P 40g, C 30g, F 25g]
Meal 4 (pre-workout): 1.5 scoops of WPI, 1 tablespoon macadamia oil [P 40g, F 20g]
Meal 5: (post-workout): 1 scoop of WPI [P 30g]
Meal 6: 250g lean red meat, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, handful of cashew nuts [P 55g, C 15g, F 30g]
PCF totals: Protein 251g, Carbohydrates 90g, Fats 107g.
Obviously this plan is not set in stone and will be manipulated according to how I both look and feel.
David Salamon's ANB WA State Titles
CW had an absolute ripper of a day at David Salamon's awesome ANB WA State Titles earlier this May.k
The show had a great atmosphere, high standard amongst the competitors and went very smoothly indeed.
As always, Cliff Reeve, the man with the golden voice, did a superb job as the MC with his usual hilarious idle banter, ad lib interviews with the competitors, great interaction with the audience and overall ability to really add some glitz to the event.
Alison Jones, the head judge, also did a top job at the judges table in calling the shots, keeping the judges on task and tallying up the scores with her very basic calculator!
CW was very honoured to be once again at the judges table and really enjoyed adjudicating some tough decisions from the best seat in the house.
Pictured here are yours truly & WA bodybuilding identity and fellow judge, Brad McMillan, both sporting our spectacles so as to make sure we could scrutinize the talent on display in enough detail. What made the job easier was the fact that the competitor numbers were white numbers on a black background...a clever innovation by the ANB I reckon!!
It was also very nice to receive this personalized judges plaque too :-))
Most of the kudos needs to be portioned to the promoter, David Salamon and his hardworking ANB crew, for their incredible hard work and attention to detail. Both competitors and the spectators alike had a great time which highlighted once again how well the show was received.
Love your work David and looking forward to the next ANB adventure in WA this September!
CW's Group Posing Classes
As a prelude to bodybuilding season A, a good friend of mine, Sam Murphy, and I decided to run some group posing classes from our gym at Non Stop 24 Hour Fitness.
Sam used his clever IT skills to put together the poster shown below and we ran these for several weeks.
We only ended up with small classes but it was great to able work together to enhance the posing skills of the fine young gentlemen that came along.
Some of these guys were competing for the first time and soon realised how important it was to learn how to pose properly AND in such a way as to show off your physique to it's full potential.
Particular poses like the quarter turns, side chest, side tricep, back double biceps, abs & thigh and most muscular can be tweaked in such a way to customise it to suit the individual and hence create the optimum look.
I have assisted people with their posing individually for years but did enjoy working with a small group as the overall atmosphere ended up being very positive and motivating due to everyone have the same goal in being the best they could be.
I am now very much looking forward to bringing these back for season B in August/September!
HIT back attack at Non Stop 24 Hour Fitness!
Here is a recent back, traps & rear deltoid workout I cranked out so as to place equal emphasis on both the upper and lower lats as well as the dense muscles of the middle back:
1. Technogym plate loaded wide grip pulldowns
2. Precor Unilateral close reverse grip pulldowns
3. One arm dumbbell rows
4. T-bar rows
5. Rear delt raises lying on a 15 degree incline bench
6. Heavy dumbbell shrugs
My version of HIT training usually involves a strict 15 rep warm up set, followed by a heavier 12 rep set (not to failure) with a final all out set of 6-8 reps as close to positive failure as possible.
If the final set wasn't to my satisfaction I will then immediately halve the weight and do a very strict drop set of around 15-20 reps to really flush the muscle with blood and get a great pump.
And, as always, I try to focus on 3-4 second negatives throughout the entire workout with minimal rest between sets so as to maxlmise the intensity.
Got glutes and lower lats??...
Found this shot from a couple of years ago and it reminded me of why, as a natural bodybuilder, you shouldn't be restricting water too much in the last few days before a show.
In this contest I drank water at a sensible pace till 2 hours before the stage.
I followed the advice of Layne Norton and it worked pretty well.
If your body fat levels are low enough then there shouldn't be any need to make weird and whacky changes during the final week of your contest prep.
There are no magic bullets in bodybuilding just patience, consistency and hard work!
Awesome Grilling Tip!!
I quite often like to say that the simple things in life are always the best.
My big old George Foreman Grill has served me well over the years when I pull it out every Sunday to cook up my 2kg of chicken breasts for the week ahead.
These grills can be a nightmare to clean after using them.
However, if you put baking paper underneath and over the top of the chicken then you not only avoid all that cleaning and save the Teflon coating on the grill but it also helps keep the chicken breasts from drying out, almost like steaming them.
David Nazaroff shared this tip with me many moons ago...it may sound like the bleeding obvious but how many of you still persist in using these grills and then scrubbing them senseless afterwards!!??
CW is back on the gear again!
Herbal that is...HERBAL!!
I have been enjoying the benefits of Maca powder for some time now but have just recently added Tribulus back into the hormonal equation.
Austral Herbs is a great website where the organic versions of these can be bought by the kilogram all whilst being relatively inexpensive too.
Always worth looking after your hormones, even when Father Time starts to kick you in the derrière!
CW's Hard Working Clients
Two of my clients, Eugene and Jack, recently competed in the WA State Titles. For both of them this was their first contest.
These fine gentlemen also both work in "fly in, fly out" jobs so as such work 12 hour days for weeks on end with limited foods to choose from with not many hours in the day for cardio and weight training.
But where there is a will there is a way as Eugene and Jack whipped themselves into fantastic shape and were an absolute credit to themselves as well representing "Bodychisel by Craig" with distinction. I was very proud of their efforts as they both proved that there are absolutely NO excuses when it comes to getting in the best shape of your life.
As I always like to say...set a goal, create a plan of attack, do the work, be consistent and then reap the rewards!!
CW's Contest Plans
My annoying knee injury has prevented me from competing this year and it certainly doesn't make any sense to rush things in terms of getting back on stage. At the end of the day performing multiple cardio sessions to try and get in shape with a knee niggle isn't exactly the best remedy for rest and recovery!
Currently my body weight is around 92kg which is about 7-8 kg above my contest weight, so this would mean a pre-contest cutting phase would need to be around 16-20 weeks to slowly chisel away and remove my excess body-fat without cannibalising any muscle. So either May or September 2016 seems to be a more viable option for my next bodybuilding excursion.
In the mean time my training has been productive and I have hopefully made some good gains to my chest as I have improved my pressing technique to take the load off the shoulders by placing the emphasis more on the pectoral muscles. I got this technique from Myotherapist, Michael Bordignon. He explained the importance of keeping your shoulders "down and back", by pinching your shoulder blades together, throughout a deliberate 3 second negative, followed by a powerful positive motion without locking out at the top, all whilst keeping your shoulders pinned back. It took several sessions to master this movement with relatively light weights, recently I have increased the weight and can definitely feel a better contraction in the pecs as a result. Also, the stress on my shoulder joints has been greatly reduced.
It's always a good idea to look for new ways to improve what we are doing in the gym.
Anyway folks, that's about it for Blog #33. I hope there was something in it for you. If anyone has any suggestions for topics they would like me to address in future, please feel free to message me on Facebook via "Craig Bodychisel".
So until next time we meet in cyberspace, keep up the awesome work with your training, keep setting those goals and always try to stay true to your passions.
Best wishes, CW