Monthly Archives: July 2010

Musclemania Contest Prep on Bodybuilding.com

I competed in Musclemania America 2009 after a five-year hiatus. Check out my article on Bodybuilding.com to learn how I trained for the comeback. I learned some valuable lessons from the process that have influenced what I am doing for my upcoming contests.

Sample Workouts

In other articles on this site, I’ve explained my belief that bodybuilding and fitness-style training is the best way to lose weight and shape your body. To sum it up:

  1. Training for performance is much different than training for appearance.
  2. Training for core strength, balance, posture, and corrective exercise are all much different than training for appearance.
  3. Bodybuilding and fitness-style workouts (body part splits, target training, a certain amount of volume, proper rep execution and tempos) are the best mode of training for physique enhancement/body composition change/appearance-based training.
  4. The most effective training and nutrition programs are simple on paper/theory but are backed by complex science and tons of research.
  5. The most ineffective training and nutrition programs are complex on paper/theory. They are full of flash, fluff, trends, and so-called “innovation” (and are generally trying to sell you on a product or system), but are backed by minimal research and science.

So what does a bodybuilding and fitness-style program look like on paper? Here are some sample training splits and workouts. These are not meant to be done indefinitely. As a trainer and coach, I generally rotate exercises, order of exercises, rep tempos, rest periods, and other variables to vary the training stimulus. I also make changes based on the goals and progress of the client. I do, however, think these are good plans to get started with on your fitness journey. They hit every major muscle group and move the body through different planes and ranges-of-motion. At least you won’t be balancing on a ball like a seal thinking you are actually working out.

SAMPLE 1: 2-DAY FULL BODY SPLIT

Day 1 — Full Body

Split squats 2 x 15
Hamstring curls 2 x 15
Pull-ups or lat pulldowns 2 x 15
Hammer Strength, machine, or cable wide grip rows 2 x 15
Flat dumbell bench press 2 x 15
Dumbell shoulder press 2 x 15
Cable triceps extensions 2 x 15
Alternate dumbell curls 2 x 15
Crunches with legs in the air 2 x 15

Day 2 — Full Body

Dumbell sumo squats 2 x 15
Leg press 2 x 15
Close grip pull-ups or lat pulldowns 2 x 15
One arm dumbell rows 2 x 15
Incline dumbell press 2 x 15
Dumbell side lateral raises 2 x 15
Skullcrushers (lying triceps extensions) 2 x 15
Cable rope curls 2 x 15
Bicycle crunches 2 x 15

SAMPLE 2: 3-DAY PUSH/PULL SPLIT

Day 1 – Chest, shoulders, triceps

Incline dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Cable fly 3 x 10-12
Dumbell shoulder press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell side lateral raise 3 x 10-12
Cable triceps extensions 3 x 10-12
Skullcrushers 3 x 10-12

Day 2 — Legs, Core

Leg press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell sumo squat 3 x 10-12
Hamstring curls 3 x 10-12
Leg extensions 3 x 10-12
Calf raises 3 x 10-12
Crunches with legs in air 3 x 10-12

Day 3 — Back, biceps

Pull-ups 3 x 10-12
Hammer strength or machine wide grip rows 3 x 10-12
One arm dumbell rows 3 x 10-12
Lower back extensions 3 x 10-12
Alternate dumbell curls 3 x 10-12
Dumbell concentration curls 3 x 10-12

SAMPLE 3: 4-DAY UPPER/LOWER SPLIT

Day 1 — Legs/core I

Dumbell sumo squat 3 x 10-12
Leg Press 3 x 10-12
Split squats 3 x 10-12
Hamstring curls 3 x 10-12
Calf raises 3 x 10-12
Hanging leg raises superset plank holds 3 x max reps
Day 2 — Upper Body Push

Flat dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Incline dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell shoulder press 3 x 10-12
Dumbell side lateral raises 3 x 10-12
Cable triceps extensions 3 x 10-12
Skullcrushers 3 x 10-12

Day 3 — Legs, Core II

Squats 3 x 10-12
Stiff leg deadlifts 3 x 10-12
Bench step-ups 3 x 10-12
Leg extensions 3 x 10-12
Calf raises 3 x 10-12
Crunches w/ legs in the air superset bicycle crunches 3 x max reps

Day 4 — Upper Body Pull

Pull-ups 3 x 10-12
One arm dumbell rows 3 x 10-12
Wide grip hammer or machine rows 3 x 10-12
Barbell curls 3 x 10-12
Alternate dumbell curls 3 x 1012

SAMPLE 4: 4-DAY BODYBUILDING SPLIT

Day 1 – Back, Abs

Pull-ups 3 x 10-12
Wide grip hammer or machine rows 3 x 10-12
One arm dumbell rows 3 x 10-12
Rack Deadlifts 3 x 10-12
Hanging leg raises 3 x max reps
Stability ball crunches 3 x max reps

Day 2 — Chest, Biceps

Flat dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Incline dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Machine fly 3 x 10-12
Push-ups 1 x max reps
Barbell curl 3 x 10-12
Alternating dumbell hammer curl 3 x 10-12
Dumbell concentration curl 3 x 10-12

Day 3 — Legs

Squats 3 x 10-12
Leg press 3 x 10-12
Hamstring curls 3 x 10-12
Leg extensions 3 x 10-12
Calf Raises 3 x 10-12

Day 4 — Shoulders, Triceps

Seated dumbell press 3 x 10-12
Barbell shrugs 3 x 10-12
Dumbell side lateral raises 3 x 10-12
Machine or cable rear delt fly 3 x 10-12
Rope cable triceps extensions 3 x 10-12
Skullcrushers 3 x 10-12

The Power of Goals

Setting goals is a powerful tool that can be used in almost every aspect of our lives — self-improvement, career advancement, educational development, athletic achievement, relationship communication, and financial control. Those who have never used goals for guidance or motivation tend to write them off as self-help nonsense. Those who have experienced their power set and monitor goals on a regular basis.

All achievement starts with goals. You have to know where you want to go first before you have a chance of reaching that final destination. Setting goals helps us block out life’s distractions and narrow our focus to a specific task at hand. It helps us set priorities in our lives. It gives us the power to tap into our energies and abilities and use them to maximum effect.

Goals provide us with specific reasons for performing our daily actions. Without goals we often wander from moment to moment, task to task without a purpose. We end up spinning our wheels, stuck in the same spot as years past, with no real accomplishments to show for it.

Athletes and coaches understand the power of goal setting. In the off-season or at the start of the season, players and teams set specific goals for the upcoming year. They then set a specific plan of action to achieve those goals. It could be to win a championship or to break personal records. Ambitious goals motivate them to work hard and push through the rigors of the competitive season. It gives them a reason to make the sacrifices necessary to be an elite athlete.

GOALS IN THE FITNESS GAME

Most people just have vague ideas about their health and fitness goals. “I want to lose some weight.” “I want to get rid of my belly fat.” “I want to lower my cholesterol.” I bet you can think of a thousand other examples. Here are the two best that I’ve ever heard in all my years in the fitness industry. (1) “I want my neck to stop jiggling around like a turkey’s.” (2) “I want to look less pregnant than my pregnant wife.”

The problem with vague goals such as these is there is no accountability. There is nothing specific to work towards and no time frame in which you should complete your task. You can justify skipping workouts or cheating on your diet because, “I’ll just get it out of my system and start all over again tomorrow.” I know I’ve done that more times than I’d like to admit, and I’m a professional. When a warm-chocolate chip cookie is staring you in the face, a little extra jiggle with your wiggle doesn’t seem so bad.

That’s where short-term goals come in. With a short-term goal, there is no starting over again because the time frame is finite. If you have a doctor’s appointment in 2 months and this is the last chance to lower your cholesterol by 100 points so you don’t have to go on medication, you have a reason not to eat that cookie. If you have a goal of losing 20 pounds and looking sexy at the beach, or in a wedding dress in 3 months, you have a very strong reason not to eat that cookie. Goals give us a powerful polarizing factor in our decision-making process, and they lead us in a better direction than just doing whatever we feel like.

The fittest people I know continually set specific goals for their health, body composition, and appearance. They know this is the best way to keep them on track in a world full of temptations. It’s hard to get into and stay in shape in America 2K. We’re overworked, overstressed, and constantly exposed to food refining and supersizing. Goals give us a reason to work hard, sacrifice, and do what is necessary to achieve what we desire.

CRY OUT TO THE WORLD

“You gotta cry out, cry out to the world, to make your dreams happen.” That’s a line from the rock song Cry Tough by Poison. Yeah, I know it’s a cheesy reference. But hey, I grew up an 80′s rocker kid with five older brothers sporting the Bon Jovi hair-sprayed and feathered hair. Feel free to substitute your own quote to motivate you, but the moral of the message remains the same.

I’ve always told people that if you have a goal, you need to tell people about it. The more people you tell the better, but you need to share your goal with at least one other person. Why? Well, because this holds you accountable to pursuing and achieving that goal. If you keep your goals a secret, you have no one to call you out when you are slacking off or falling off track. It’s too easy to just forget about your goal when the going gets tough.

By not telling anyone about your goal, you automatically give yourself a way out. If you quit and give up, no one knows that you were even chasing after something. And more importantly, no one knows that you failed. You can just start over again with no real consequences. At least if you tell someone and you bail out, you’ll have to deal with the questions of what happened.

I’m not a lot of things in this life. I have many faults and shortcomings. But one thing I know that I am is a man of my word. If I tell someone about my goal, than I’d be breaking my word if I didn’t chase after it. That’s not going to happen. This motivates me to follow through 100% with the goals I’ve set. I may still fail, but once I tell someone I’m going after something, I will never fail because I didn’t give it my best shot.

I want you to think about a goal you might have for yourself over the next couple of months. I know we’re talking health and fitness, so preferably stick to that, but your goal could be anything. How do you want to improve your life over the next couple of months? Do you want to lose some weight, improve your health and well being, look fit and hot for the summer, save some money, make some money, improve your career, be a better family member or friend, be a better person in general, etc.?

Once you figure out your goal, you have to tell someone else to make the pursuit of that goal a reality. You need to put yourself on the line. You need to put some pressure on yourself by making sure you have to answer to someone if you weasel out. If you’re not comfortable sharing that goal with someone in your circle, than you can email it to me through this site. Trust me, I’ll hold you accountable.

Training Prep on Bodybuilding.com

I’m excited to share that my second article has been posted on Bodybuilding.com.  When I submitted it I was training for a competition in August, but as you know from my last post I have instead set my sights on the Musclemania California show in October, and the INBA Natural Mr. Universe in November. I’ll be updating my progress along the way on their site, and will of course keep you all apprised as well.

Check it out here:

The Barebones Fitness Nutrition Plan

A mentor of mine once said that advice doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. In fact, the simpler the advice, the more likely it will be followed. If you can’t summarize your theories about fitness nutrition in less than a few minutes then either your client won’t understand it, you don’t really understand it, you’re trying to sound too smart, or the material is so complex that it won’t work in real life situations.

When I talk with people about fitness nutrition, most people just ask me to tell them the exact steps they need to take to lose fat and get in shape. They want a simple plan with simple principles. They want to know WHAT to do, and don’t necessarily care about WHY they should do it. They want to get the plan,
go out to the grocery store, and get started on their body transformation immediately (well, maybe have one last cheat meal or two first, then go to the grocery store and get started).

The way most nutrition books are structured, however, the practical information readers can use in their every day lives is buried beneath pages and pages of science and theory. Many fitness authors tend to focus on the “why” of fitness nutrition – why they believe athletes should eat a certain way. I get the
sense that many are trying to prove the validity of their theories through complex science, while at the same time forgetting about their target audience — fitness athletes. The problem with this approach is that the practical information the reader needs gets lost in the endless pages of scientific theory.

I’ve given nutrition books to clients in the past, and most quit reading before they got to the good stuff — we’re talking the ratios, food choices, and meal plans I wanted them to apply. They fell asleep through a lecture on insulin/glucagon dynamics, shut the book, and put it on the shelf to gather dust. “I’m busy
Nate, I don’t have time to read all of this.” “It’s too complicated, you need a Phd in physiology to understand it.” I’ve seen it time and time again.

I could be mistaken, but I believe that most athletes don’t care that much about the science behind human physiology. The majority of athletes don’t want to sit through a Phd level lecture on protein metabolism, they just want to know how many grams of protein they should be eating so they can set up an optimum diet. In other words, fitness athletes care much more about the “what” — what should they be eating to maximize fat loss and muscle gain?

Science is important, it gives you a knowledge base and helps you make informed decisions about what you eat. But practical information you can apply in real life is much more important to the fitness athlete. After all, this isn’t the classroom; it’s the gym, field, stage, or beach. If you don’t do what you should be doing, it doesn’t matter what you know.

Imagine for a second that you and I are new co-workers. We’re hanging out in the break room or grabbing a cup of Joe at a nearby coffee shop. You’ve just asked me to tell you everything you need to know about fitness nutrition to get in shape by summer time. Oh yeah, you’ve also just realized your next meeting starts in ten minutes. You don’t have time for a long, drawn out lecture with a lot of science and theory. You need practical information you can begin to follow today. You need to know what you should be doing to look good at the beach or poolside. We can talk about the reasons why you should be doing it later when we have more time. What would I say?

I know exactly what I would say, because I had this conversation in real life last week – twice. In fact, I’ve had this conversation hundreds of times over the years. That’s good for you, because I’ve worked out all of the “kinks” and developed the ability to effectively and efficiently convey the important points.

In this article, I would like to focus on the barebones practical steps to setting up a damn good fitness nutrition plan. This is the “what”, we’ll cover the “why” in future articles.

1. SET PROTEIN: Eat 1 gram of protein for every 1 pound of LEAN BODY MASS.

  • This requires obtaining your total body weight and fat percentage. If you weigh 200lbs and are 20% body fat, then your fat mass is 40lbs. Your lean body mass is 200-40= 160lbs. You should eat 160grams of protein per day.
  • Eat mostly natural and lean proteins: Fish, shellfish, egg whites (with 1-2 yolks mixed in), skinless turkey breast, skinless chicken breast, lean cuts of red meat (eye of round, top round, sirloin), protein shakes and meal replacements.
  • Avoid higher fat and processed proteins: Bacon, salami, dairy (cheese, milk, etc.), chicken thighs, turkey thighs, fattier cuts of red meat (porterhouse, t-bone, ribeye, etc.)

2. CARBOHYDRATES: If your primary goal is fat loss, eat roughly the same amount of carbohydrates as protein per day, or 1 gram of carbohydrate for every 1 pound of lean body mass. The person in our above example should eat 160 grams of carbohydrates per day. If your primary goals is building muscle, eat 1.5-2.0 grams of carbohydrate for every 1 pound of lean body mass. The person in our above example should eat 240-320grams of carbohydrate per day.

  • Eat natural, unrefined starches and whole fruits as your primary carbohydrate sources: apples, oranges, berries, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, oatmeal, quinoa.
  • Avoid sugar and refined starches: soda, fruit juice, table sugar, pastries, breads, pasta, cereals, chips, crackers.
  • Eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you wish, these are free foods and do not impact total calories to a significant degree: lettuce, spinach, mixed greens, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, peppers, onions, etc.

3. FATS: Eat 1/4g to 1/3g of fat for every 1lb of lean body mass.

  • In the above example, this person should eat (160g)(1/4 to 1/3g/lb) = 40-53 g of fat per day.
  • Emphasize healthy fats — essential fatty acids/omega 3′s, monounsaturated fats, and a moderate amount of saturated fats as by-product of your protein sources: fat from salmon and other fish, 1-2 whole eggs, by products of lean red meats/chicken/turkey.  If you need to add fats, eat whole food fats in their natural state:  avocado, nuts, coconut.  Don’t eat refined oils.
  • Avoid transfats and excessive saturated fats: hydrogenated oils, processed snack foods, fried foods, whole dairy, creams, butters, fattier cuts of meat.

4. MEAL TIMING: Spread nutritional intake over 5 meals if you have high calorie demands.  But for most people, 3 meals a day is the most realistic, sustainable plan.

What about body type adjustments (for ectomorphs, endomorphs), carb cycling, macro-rotations, nutrient timing, etc? The truth is, you need to establish a solid baseline first before you worry about any advanced techniques. Get started with this plan, develop good habits, and worry about the extras later on down the road. You have to start somewhere, and I believe this is a great starting point.

Copyright 2010 Nate Miyaki