After reading part one (Consistent Peaking – Part One) you’ll know I’m not a believer in magical peak weeks, but I do believe in the ground work in the weeks preceding it. It’s there where the magic truly happens, and in those weeks your priority should be on getting in true contest shape before you even enter your peak week. If you’re not in contest shape a week out from your show and you’re relying on voodoo tactics (refer to part one), then you’ll most likely fall short of your true potential no matter how your peak week is set up. Based on my 30+ years of experience, I’ve never seen anyone get in true contest shape where they relied heavily on peak week to make up for what they lacked in the weeks prior. [Read more…]
I will be 47 years YOUNG next month. Is it sad that I have to count out the years from my date of birth to figure that out? While my mind might be failing me at times, I don’t plan on having my body do the same. We love training, but it’s worth noting the things that I do outside of the gym are just as important to my success as what I do inside the gym. [Read more…]
The “Old Days” of bodybuilding and fitness…the “Bro Days.” We’ve all heard of them. Many of us have lived them. The “Old Days” refer to that time way back when and long, long ago when the driving forces of fitness and bodybuilding were primarily “Bro science” and wives’ tales from sources like muscle magazines, the biggest guy (or girl) in the gym, or really anyone with a halfway decent set of abs and a smartphone, without regard for science or evidence-based thinking.
We all started somewhere, and I would guess that many of our origins and paths of growth in bodybuilding and fitness are quite similar. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve blindly followed advice and significantly changed our lives to implement these concepts. Essentially, we became experts in ladder climbing with little regard as to whether the ladder was leaning on the right wall!
Those early days were dangerous. They had the potential to crush us mentally and physically as well as jeopardize our most meaningful relationships with friends, family, and significant others. More often than not, the early days also increased our physical and mental stress levels, limited our ability to be fluid and adaptable, and lessened our overall quality of life. The worst part? We didn’t mind. We didn’t care enough to notice it. We stifled that all-knowing tiny voice in our heads, known as conscience, giving us little jabs of guilt and raising the occasional red flag as we fell deeper and deeper away from who we truly were and wanted to be. We were unaware that we were prisoners and that, my friends, is the best kind of prisoner because ignorance has the potential to keep the imprisoned blissfully in prison forever.
The unfortunate truth is, the “Old Days” have not passed; they are still very much alive, present, and thriving (much like Tom Riddle through an enchanted diary**) through gurus, zealots, both mainstream and social media, and magazines and websites focused on gaining subscriptions rather than improving the community at large. They are profiting and preying off of those who are still ignorantly imprisoned. Thankfully, many have been enlightened and have allowed their views and beliefs to be turned upside down in the presence of a better way. Sadly, many have not. Many are still stuck in the dark ages.
When I was in undergraduate college I wanted to do the absolute best that I could and straight A’s were the goal. Just like the “Old Days,” I put my head down and grinded. I ended up “succeeding” in getting straight A’s and graduating summa cum laude, just like I was “successful” at being a “Bro.” As I progressed in my college and eventually professional careers, I realized that grades weren’t what were important. The grade shouldn’t have been the goal. In fact, I was so enlightened, that in my last year of the doctoral program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, I didn’t look at one grade the entire year! And guess what? I still got straight A’s, but I did it with a much less intense, close-minded, and misguided mindset.
I truly feel that I was only able to get straight A’s in that last year of graduate school without tracking grades because of the years spent doing it the wrong way. This two-part article will explain why our ability to properly apply the concepts of a more evidence-based approach to bodybuilding and fitness relies heavily on our mistakes of the past. In other words, in order to do it correctly, you have to have done it incorrectly first. I don’t regret the “Bro Days.” I am thankful for them. Here’s why and what I’ve learned. [Read more…]
In part 1 of this article I cover the why, as I went through the pertinent information as to when higher volumes might be necessary, and I hinted that logistically specialization cycles might be the best way to safely achieve them. As a brief recap, plateaued poor responders and plateaued advanced lifters might want to consider a higher volume approach (in opinion, defined as 20 sets per muscle group or higher) if everything else is in order (nutrition, technique, effort, exercise selection, sleep, stress etc.). Also, since I wrote Part 1, the soon-to-be-published study exploring very high volumes in trained lifters lead by Schoenfeld and colleagues that I referenced is now published for those interested. This article is all about the how: the process of constructing these cycles. [Read more…]
I am going through a slump right now. I know I should be writing the second installment on blood flow restriction (BFR) training, but instead I am here, getting off track yet again.
Plus, I want the BFR piece to be a good one. I feel this training tool is way too often misunderstood, or not pulled from the arsenal when it is the perfect weapon of choice.
Instead, what I want to talk about is the recent training slump I am currently going through. I have been in such a rut that I even stopped uploading weekly updates to my “Bulking in The Year 3000” series. I am by no means panicking or concerned about the negative emotions surrounding my training though. I see strength training/bodybuilding as my first love, and I have been married to the “old ball and chain” for 19 years now. I imagine most actual real human relationships experience the same ups and downs. Take a couple that has been married for 40 years, I am sure at some point Martha temporarily fell out of love with George. It is no different for me, but I am still no less committed than the day I started.
“Between years 18-21 I couldn’t stand the old fool, and during this time I couldn’t see how I would ever regain the spark we had.” I feel like this is something you might hear Martha say, and right now I relate!
The truth is that in my 19 years of lifting, I have gone through a few phases where I fell out of love with my training. The difference is, back then, I would totally freak out when I felt this way. I still recall being 16 years old and being caught mid-daydream by my disapproving English teacher. My teacher sighed at me, the look in the teacher’s eyes showing they knew nothing could be done about a boy in love. Except my love was the weights. I remember visualizing myself kicking up the 75 lb dumbbells on my top set of incline presses later that day – the idea of that much power was intoxicating. Thus, I was white-knuckling my pen, and the blank look on my face showed I wasn’t paying attention to the lesson. I remember running home after training to get on the all the big message board forums to read everything I could on bodybuilding. I recall waking up excited nearly every morning because at some point, I knew I would get to train. It was like this for the longest time, my great love seemed to grab me and take hold. But eventually the mental droughts happen, and you find yourself in a slump. I’ve had quite a few memorable ones, but there is one that always comes to mind and really puts everything into perspective for me. [Read more…]
If you’re a bodybuilder who is fast approaching peak week (the week leading to a show) or is getting ready to compete in the near future, this blog might intrigue you. I wanted to share with you, as a coach, how I approach peak week and I want to feature one of my athletes who is having a tremendous 2018 contest season. Thomas Davies, who is coming off a novice class win at the BNBF Midlands on August 11, 2018 nailed his peak and his best physique to date. [Read more…]
I’m sure some people who hear this are mortified. I remember having a debate with one of the football coaches last year regarding this subject. The conversation ranged from Creatine being unsafe to it being down right tainted. Each subject that was presented to me I debated with evidence. I have a host of reasons why I encourage my son to take Creatine. The most important being that I am 100% confident that the use of Creatine is safe for him .
We’re fortunate to live in an era where folks like Dr Brad Schoenfeld and other researchers are consistently working on practical research to answer specific questions that lifters want to know. We’re also fortunate that folks like Greg Nuckols and James Krieger are doing analyses outside of the peer reviewed research to keep the community on the cutting edge of data-informed training. [Read more…]
It’s been crazy to watch the change from “brick and mortar” shopping, to WiFi and mouse clicks. I purchased stock in Amazon a few years back, and what an excellent decision that was. But this goes beyond buying things online. Our industry, the fitness industry, has gone electronic as well. From the way we dispense information, to all the discount codes flashing across your screen. Oh, and Flex magazine is no longer around? When did that happen?
Many of the e-mails and social media private messages that we get are regarding time off from training. Even many of our competition prep athletes write us during some level of panic, asking us what they should do for their training during a vacation, family emergency, injury, medical restricted period, hardship etc. etc. It’s as if the end of the world is coming and even so much as a hiccup in their training schedule will de-rail their gains, and they are only a week or two away from turning into terrible bodybuilder/athlete, or fat slobs with no muscle. It almost seems like they believe they will never be training or lifting weights again.