We at Betancourt Nutrition would like to thank Bodybuilding.com & Staff for giving us the opportunity to post our monthly column - this means a lot to me so I would need you guys to get involved as much as possible. There is no holding back here just the truth from over 20 years of experience. So log on to Betancourt Nutrition.com and submit your questions.
[ Q ] My gym doesn't have a squat rack what should I do?
[ A ] Ah man, a squat rack is very important. It's a must have in any gym but, in my case I don't really use it for anything other than shrugs. I like to use the smith machine because I feel much safer on it and due to my old age knees and groin injuries I feel that this is the best alternative for me.
I really think you can get an affective workout with it. Try doing strip sets like I do. I'll drop down from 315, 275, 225 for 10 reps per set. Do 3 to 4 sets of these along with the rest of your quad workout and you should be just fine.
[ Q ] Do stretch marks go away?
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[ A ] I have bad news for you. Stretch marks will never go away but don't feel bad cause its part of the game. To me stretch marks mean you're getting strong and the body is growing so don't worry about it too much.
My first stretch marks were right between my legs, one on each side of the groin. They were huge, red, purple and still there after twenty years. It's a tear on your skin which has no way of putting itself back together but, don't worry they'll get lighter and you will eventually forget through time that their where even there.
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[ Q ] Why haven't I gained any weight when all I do is eat?
[ A ] Gaining weight is just as hard as losing it for some people. To gain weight was extremely difficult for me. In my experience all I did was eat, eat, and eat and for some reason my weight just didn't seem to go up.
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I think my downfall was I ate too lean and the plates needed to be much bigger to make up for the calories. If I had to do it all over again I will add some healthy fats to my meals.
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You probably don't believe this but, at one point I got up to 5400 hundred calories per day and that was all counted for. Divide that by six meals per day and that's a lot of eating, it actually became a job for me.
[ Q ] What is a good age to start weightlifting?
[ A ] Normally, it really varies on the individual. You should start at an age where you feel mentally ready. In my case I was 14 when I started but, in most cases that's probably too young. Lucky for me when I first walked into the gym, I met a few power lifters and they taught me the basics from the very beginning.
If you're going to start young I suggest you get yourself a coach to teach you the proper techniques to prevent yourself from any injuries. Their really isn't a timeframe of when to start weightlifting, it's a long process not a hobby or something you do for the time being when you're bored. When you feel like making it part of your lifestyle then you're definitely ready.
[ Q ] How many calories should I eat per meal?
[ A ] It all depends on what goals you've set for yourself. If you're aiming to gain mass then you need to consume more calories per meal but, if your goal is to get lean then you have to consume less calories throughout the day to get your results.
When I'm trying to get lean I like to divide my daily calorie intake into 5 or 6 meals. Keep in mind that the calories you're consuming should come from good quality foods. This is much healthier for you in the long run.
[ Q ] Should I switch to full body workouts?
[ A ] I don't really see how you can get a good workout doing this, I'd rather train two body parts per day at 100% than to train my entire body at 50%. I need to be at work pretty early, so for me my workout's need to be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
If you're looking to build muscle I'd advise you train 1 to 2 body parts per day 5 days a week with 2 days off. I've never heard of any one doing full body workouts but, I've heard of people training 6-8 hours a day, back in the day. I think nowadays athletes have gotten smarter realizing that sometimes doing less is better.
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[ Q ] Should I be using straps when going to the gym?
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[ A ] Straps can be pretty tricky; I used them to the point where I would do curls with them but soon realized my forearms were just not growing - I use to have big arms with small forearms.
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When I got back into bodybuilding a few years ago I swore not to ever wear them again, except maybe on my last two sets of shrugs where the weight is just too heavy. I tell you what, due to not wearing them my forearms grew and they are now in proportion to my upper arms.
[ Q ] Jorge how strong where you as a kid? Are you stronger now?
[ A ] Yeah I can say I was pretty strong, strong as an ox but, not as strong as Eddy Robinson. He was another teenage champion. At 19 years old, I benched 495 at a weight of 191 lbs and squatted close to 600 lbs. but I never did any deadlift; because I was more into bodybuilding than powerlifting. Now, Eddy was strong all around - he did over six hundred pounds on the bench and over 800 on squats.
Am I strong now? Absolutely, but due to so many injuries I no longer train heavy. I have too many aches and pains now from all that heavy lifting. Almost everything I do now is 8-15 reps and if I feel anything strange I just won't do it.
[ Q ] Jorge, how different is your workout routine now then it was in your early years?
[ A ] Oh man, when I was a kid I was one crazy dude. I used to spend 3 hours daily at the gym and if I was training for a show I'd go twice a day 6 days per week. Everything was four exercises per body group and at least 6 sets each but, as I got older and more into the sport I realized that was way too much.
I've learned through out the years that I can get away with half of that. My routine now is only 45 minutes to an hour long 4 to 5 days per week. My sleep is also down a bit as well as I only get 7-8 hours per night.
[ Q ] Jorge I love classic physics and I want to build one. How did you get so symmetrical?
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[ A ] Well to be honest with you I was born with good genetics but, better than that I had a good eye for sculpting the body. Believe it or not I used to be a graffiti writer before I got into bodybuilding so I've always had a good eye for drawing.
Actually almost my whole family except my mom can draw and my brother is actually a famous artist. When I looked in the mirror I was an artist chiseling away with weights instead of a pick and hammer. When I look in the mirror I see what needs to be done to get the sculpture just right. Also, it helps out when you can get a friend to critique you but you have to be strong to be able to take it.
[ Q ] Did you have any idols when you where growing up?
[ A ] Everybody has idols in every different sport there is, I mean we all need some inspiration to get it started. My idols were Lee Haney, Rich Gaspari, Lee Labrada, Flex Wheeler and Shawn Ray but my favorite was Haney. That's my opinion, without taking anything away from anyone else.
Haney had it all and as a human being he was untouchable. He raised a family while being Mr. Olympia and that to me is more inspiring than anything else.
That wraps it up for this month. Stay tuned till next month and make sure to submit your questions through BetancourtNutrition.com. If your question is picked your name and city will be displayed next to your question. Happy Holidays see you next year.