Hi again Everyone,

I hope all is well with you and that 2012 has been a great year seeing several health and fitness goals either ticked off or in the process of being ticked off. In any case always set those goals, both short and long term, so as to give you that sense of purpose, focus and something to work towards.

The 4 week rebound draws to a close 
As they say in the classics “All good things must come to an end!”…well my 4 week rebound of numerous cheats and extra carbs is now in the process of being tidied up. I am now quite ‘clean’ throughout the week with the cheat meal only on the Friday night. My protein is still locked in at around 350g per day, fibrous/complex carbohydrates somewhere around 150-200g per day depending upon that day’s activity level and good, essential fats are around 60-80g per day. Cardiovascular exercise is daily for anywhere between 20-60 minutes with a slightly higher intensity than before. I will continue to incorporate my Peak Nine (21 minute) interval cardio 3 times per week.

This regime has worked well for me in the past keeping my bodyfat in check but still allowing the muscles to fill out so that I can continue making some quality gains in lean tissue between now and my next contest in May 2013. Of course the challenge during the December/January period, particularly while I am in Melbourne with my Louise, will be to maintain some consistency while allowing myself some of those fun festive feeding frenzies and fiestas!!  

Feeling stronger has many benefits

Now that the 4 week post contest feed up has finished and I have put on a bit of weight and am carrying some more fluid my strength is coming back quickly and that is always another thing I enjoy when going to the gym…getting stronger! The acquisition of strength has several great benefits it can offer us. 
Firstly it can give you tremendous satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. For instance I might have a particular weight in mind during the days leading up to a big leg workout and am visualizing a 140kg full squat in the Smith Machine for 8 good repetitions. When I finally get to the gym and achieve that lift the feeling afterwards is awesome and very motivating which in turn drives you harder to keep beating yourself. And as we all know Progressive Resistance is one of the keys to stimulating muscular hypertrophy. This type of visualization/achievement process also lends itself well to my HIT style training which relies on that one heavy all out set to failure after just one or two prepatory sets for a given exercise.
Secondly, those wonderful brain chemicals that are responsible for giving us that natural high are a great side effect of performing a heavier lift than you’ve done before. When we lift something heavy and have to put everything into it that releases adrenalin and endorphins which is why we feel so good after a workout. 
Third, would be the stress relief associated with those nice brain chemicals and that is something that my training in the gym has given me all of my adult life. My good old dad took me to Rockingham Health Academy when I was just 18 years of age and gave me an excellent routine to start with. One thing I soon realized was that if something was bugging me before my workout it was soon out of my head once my workout was underway. By the time the workout was over that thing that was bothering me before had now fallen by the wayside. My hard and heavy training has been a constant in my life since then and has helped me during my teaching career, which can be stressful when dealing with teenagers, parents AND other teachers. It has also been there to help me through my own personal ups and downs over the years and has really been like a proverbial “best buddy” of sorts!
So having something there the end of every day to clear your head, so to speak, is a really good way to minimize stress and after all that annoying hormone Cortisol which is stimulated by stress can be somewhat catabolic. And as bodybuilders we are always looking to suppress that side effect, our objective is to be anabolic so as to keep making gains!
Fourth is the fact that stronger muscles support your joints very effectively and can help develop stronger connective tissue also, providing you perform your heavy training sensibly, with good form and plenty of recovery time. Stronger sports specific muscles equate to less injuries in your chosen sport as well.  Weight bearing exercise also improves our bone density which in turn minimizes our risk of getting Osteoperosis as we get older.

Finally the anti-aging benefits of getting stronger shouldn’t be overlooked. We all now realize that our muscle mass is improved by lifting heavier weights. This means that as we age we are actually adding lean tissue to our body just when Father Time wants to take it away. Our lean tissue is so very important to hang on to, it’s like our own inbuilt furnace that can keep our metabolism moving quickly, improves our immunity to disease, we feel better about ourself by avoiding that frustrating ‘middle age spread’ and recent research is pointing to better brain function too!!
I know I can waffle a bit but when you look at the absolute benefits associated with our bodybuilding lifestyle I feel we need to spread the word and get more people lifting weights, improving their strength and reaping all those rewards that we all know so well!!

CW’s Supa Food choices
Speaking of anti-aging I thought I should share with you some my superfoods I use to enhance my daily nutrition that also keep me feeling vibrant and in optimum overall health. 
A high protein eating plan can be quite acidic which is one thing we should try to address by consuming foods which help alkalize our diet. As you are probably aware all those wonderful green vegetables will do that for us such as broccoli, string beans, spinach, cabbage, etc. It is, however, quite difficult to get the amount you need from food alone. This is where the organic Barley Grass works so well. You can get this from any Health Food store and all you need to do is take a heaped teaspoon twice daily before breakfast and perhaps dinner or your last meal.
As we get older our hormonal levels start changing which can certainly affect the way we look and feel. Both Maca powder and Tribulus powder are known particularly in Chinese medicine to boost our hormone levels which has obvious benefits to us as we get older but will also help us with our quest for more muscle. And more muscle means anti-aging so we end up creating not a vicious circle but a “vibrant circle”!! 
I take a heaped teaspoon of both with my pre and post workout shakes on training days and then once per day on non training days again with a protein shake…usually just before bedtime.
I get my organic Maca and Tribulus powder from australherbs.com via their wholesale site, you can buy 1kg of each and save quite a bit of money compared the Health Food shop retail prices!
The other ‘superfoods’ I add to my pre and post workout shakes are Creatine, Glutamine and BCAA’S. These all work synergistically to enhance protein synthesis at that critical time near your workout as well as assist in volumising the muscle cell through hydration. After all the muscle cell is 75% water, so we need to do all we can to maximize that. I add 1 heaped teaspoon of Micronised Creatine (pharmaceutical grade) and the correct dosage of BCAA’S and Glutamine are already included in the protein powder I buy. I get the Optimum Nutrition Whey Gold Standard protein powder which is an awesome product and quite reasonably priced if you shop around online. This product has won Best Supplement of the Year at the last 8 Mr Olympia contests!! I now refer to my pre and post workout concoctions as Supashakes. I even add 1 alpha lipoic acid (ALA) capsule, 1 chromium picolinate capsule and 3 fish oil capsules as the icing on the cake.
Why not give some of these superfoods a try, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!!

CW’s workout tip for Blog #16!
The number of times people have asked me how to use those lifting straps for pulling movements is too numerous to mention! They are very important to use on your heavy set of bent over rows, deadlifts, wide grip chins, heavy shrugs, etc as your grip and forearm strength will give out before your back muscles fatigue. Schiek have two types of straps available and both work the same way. The easiest way to explain it is that if you are gripping the bar with an overhand grip you wrap the strap from underneath and then reel it in tight. If you grip the bar from underneath you then wrap the strap from over the bar and reel it in. As I like to say to people…”Over is under, and under is over!!” The famous physicist good old Sir Isaac Newton says it best with his Law of Motion that states that: “For every force and action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
Without lifting straps there is no way I would have been able to develop my back musculature to a competitive level for bodybuilding competition.

Supa Food Friday is back with a vengeance!
My big mate Les recently returned from a trip to South Africa, so it was great to catch up with him again for our usual Friday evening cheat meal.
Course 1: Big Les’ soup of the day comprising roast pumpkin, carrots, celery, onions, home made chicken stock and aged cheddar and pickle cheese as the icing on the top!
Course 2: Half a dozen New Zealand oysters.
Course 3: CW’s version of the classic bacon sandwich…Country Split buttered white bread, 250g of medium strip bacon and tomato sauce.
Course 4: Magnum Gold Icecreams.
Course 5: Mr Winter’s Christmas Cake given to him by his Year 11 cooking students.
Course 6: CW’s expresso coffee, VSOP St Remy Brandy and Cadbury mini treats.
I will really look forward to these cheat meals particularly now that I am somewhat tidier with my eating during the working week!

Until next we meet in cyberspace via this wonderful ANB forum I wish you a smooth ride to the end of your working year as we approach the festive season and hopefully some well deserved holidays and quality time with your family and friends.

Kind regards and best wishes as always, Craig W.