More Bodybuilding Questions Answered!

Now that I have some free time I can finally get around to answering some of your questions and writing some new articles. I am kicking off my return with a brief, but in depth Q and A session...
Hello everyone! I must apologize for being absent from the writers column for so long. I became entrenched in school and lab work. On the upside however, I received straight A's in all of my classes this year … including acing biochemistry! Now that I have some free time I can finally get around to answering some of your questions and writing some new articles. For now I am kicking off my return with a brief, but in depth Q and A session.

Can I Bake Or Cook Protein Powders?

QUESTION: I was wondering how beneficial it would be to bake protein bars. Wouldn't the whey's effect be negated due to the heat? What about adding whey protein to pancakes?

MY ANSWER: Heating beyond a certain point may cause a protein to denature (unfold). This may have an impact on how long it take the protein to digest and possibly it's bioavailability. That being said, the most important thing is to make sure that you are consuming enough protein. If you find bars convenient and pancakes tasty, a little denatured protein may not be optimal but it is better than many other alternatives. Be sure to check out Optimum Nutrition's Any Whey. A virtually tasteless whey protein you can add to ANYTHING!

How Long Do I Have To Wait To
See Results?

QUESTION: I already lift weights and do the right exercises, but I heard that push-ups are the best way to get your arms cut. Since I have some fat around my arms I figured doing 1 failure set of push-ups everyday would help give it more definition since it's a cardio workout and will help burn the fat around it, as well as give it better shape which can't be done with weights as much. Is this the right way to do it or am I overworking myself. If it's wrong, then what's the right way to do it? Also, are push-ups a good exercise or are there other ways to get my arms cut?

Also, I've been lifting since November 2002 and have still seen no dramatic results/gains in my arms or chest, just my legs, neck and traps. Why aren't my arms growing, and how long do I have to wait until I see serious results? For my nutrition, I did yo-yo dieting the first 6 months in which I ate 2 meals a day to burn fat. However, in April my coach told me that yo-yo dieting was bad, so for the last 3 months I've changed it to eating six meals a day.

My nutritional intake involves the following:

  • RMR: Average RMR is 1825 Calories per day
  • Carbs Consumed Daily: 577.5 g
  • Protein Consumed Daily: 165 g
  • Calories Consumed Daily: 3300
  • Fat Consumed Daily: 49.5 g

  • Meal Intakes: 6-8 meals a day
    • Breakfast: 30-40 g protein, 70-80 g carbs, 10 g fat
    • Post Workout: 30 g protein, 100 g carbs
    • 1 Hour Later: 75 g carbs, 2 glasses milk)
    • Before Bed: 1-2 glasses of milk
    • In-Between Snack: PowerBar

With my new diet, how long should I wait to see results in muscle gains? By the way, the above diet is my off-season diet which I use for bulking up in the off-season. It's based on the concepts you made in your bulking up article.

MY ANSWER: You are the victim of weightlifting myths. The notion that doing a particular movement specific for a bodypart (i.e. pushups for chest) for high reps will help define that body part is quite mis-guided. The body does not partition calorie oxidation as such. Most of the fat your body "burns" is either subcutaneous (under the skin) or visceral (around the organs). The oxidation (burning) of subcutaneous fat is primarily what gives one the "defined" look. This is accomplished through caloric restriction due to diet, exercise, or a combination of both.

Exercising with high repetitions on a certain movement in order to try and mobilize fat in that area is just not possible as far as subcutaneous fat goes. The only fat that this kind of training may make a difference on would be interstitial fat (in between muscle tissue). Unfortunately this kind of fat is only presant in very small amounts in humans, so little in fact that it is essentially useless to try and target interstitial fat. In short, the pushups may help you burn fat all around your body merely due to caloric expenditure while performing them, but you would be much better off doing 10-15 minutes of high intensity cardio in place of them if your goal is fat burning.

I am receiving mixed signals about what your goals are. At first you are concerned with burning fat, later however you state that you want to build size on your arms. Unfortunately these are conflicting goals. Building muscle is very energetically expensive and requires a certain calorie "surplus" (eating more calories than you expend). If you aren't eating enough calories, your body will not waste calories on building muscle.

Likewise, if you are in a caloric surplus it is highly unlikely that your body will experience a "net fat loss." Some fat may indeed by liberated during the day, but it will most likely be re-deposited due to the presence of excess calories. This is not to say you have to get fat while trying to build muscle. Rather you should structure your diet so that you gain about ½ to 1 lb per week. So long as you are eating good foods and not cheating on your diet too often you should see good muscular gains without excess fat gains. You need to keep in mind that you are young and gains do not come overnight. Building muscle is not a sprint, it is a marathon, slow and steady will always win the race.

How Can I Look My Best When I Take My Transformation "After" Pics?

QUESTION: I'm doing the 12 week Body for Life challenge and need some prep tips for my "after" photos to look their best. I have searched but haven't found exactly what I'm needing ... even tried posting on the message board. Do you have any tips for me? I've heard guys on the BFL challenge take water pills 3 days out. They also restrict their sodium and water intake … which I'm not really sure how and when to do. I'm 4 weeks away from the end of the challenge and want to be as prepared as possible.

MY ANSWER: First of all you are to be commended on making the decision to change your body and your life. It is not easy, but it is well worth it as I'm sure you have already discovered. Now, onto your question; assuming you have dieted correctly and your already at a low body fat, there are a few things you can do in your last week to make you look better the day of your photo.

The first thing that I would suggest is carbohydrate manipulation. Starting 7 days before your shoot begin decreasing your carbohydrate intake by 20-30g per day. At 2 days out cease further carb depletion and maintain that level of daily carbohydrate intake until the day of the shoot. Ten hours before the shoot, begin consuming 30-40g of carbs every 2 hours leading up to the shoot. If you are extremely lean you may even try eating something with about 20-30g of fat and a lot of sodium about 2 hours before the shoot as this will help fill you out.

You should also manipulate your sodium intake. Restrict total sodium intake to around 2g per day at five days before the shoot. Two days before the shoot reduce sodium to 1.5 g and further reduce it to 1g the day before the shoot. By reducing carbohydrates and sodium in the days leading up to the shoot, you will be "flushing" water out of your cells. This will "prime" your cells to store more water when you begin your carbohydrate repletion and sodium repletion on shoot day. Do not worry about water depletion. Your muscle cells are around 70% water and if you water deplete your body will react by releasing anti-diuretic hormones that will cause you to RETAIN more water.

So not only will you look flat from lack of water intracellularly (inside the muscle) you will look smooth due to subcutaneous (under the skin) water retention. This situation is clearly not favorable. Keep your water intake normalized, sodium and carbohydrate manipulation will maximize the amount of water that is stored intracellularly and minimize the amount of water that is stored subcutaneously.

You will also want to make sure that you are tan enough. I would definitely recommend applying a stain such as Pro Tan's Competition Color every night of the final week before the shoot. If you yearn for a darker and shinear color you may want to look into using a bronzer such as Dream Tan #2. Be careful with Dream Tan however, as it will make you very dark and I'm not sure how dark the judges of the BFL contest will want you. Best of luck to you!

Am I On The Right Track To Get Ripped?

QUESTION: I was hoping you would be able to help me out a little with my numbers and a few questions.

My stats:

  • Age: 20 years old
  • Weight: 193 pounds
  • Height: 5'9"
  • Experience: 1.5 years training
  • Body Fat: n/a; first time cutting though

I want to start my cutting-up diet and by reading your pages I've figured these numbers:

  • Calories: 2400
  • Carbs: 210
  • Protein: 270
  • Fat: 53

My first question is; are these numbers right to what they should be? I want to start doing the HIIT cardio routine and that brings up my second question, I know that I should have a shake right after cardio but what about the meal an hour after that? Do I need to have complex carbs for that? One last question, once I get a meal plan for the days that I do cardio do I need to make another one for the days I don't do cardio? Those numbers can't just be ignored right?

MY ANSWER: The numbers look good. If you have a slower metabolism you may want to lower your carbs a bit. Likewise if you have a faster metabolism you may want to increase your carbs a bit. Experimenting is the key. You should use these numbers as a starting point. If you find that you are having trouble losing weight, then decrease your carbs/calories further. If you find you are losing weight too rapidly (i.e. more than 2 lbs per week) then you should probably increase your carbs/calories.

On days you don't do cardio or lift you will have to adjust your calorie intake some. I would start by decreasing carbohydrate intake by 20-30g. Now, about your second post cardio meal; it is a wise idea to consume a post cardio/workout meal composed of whole food, low GI carbohydrate sources (although one may consume another protein shake if they feel so inclined) about 30-45 minutes after finishing a workout shake. This low GI carbohydrate should contain about the same amount of carbohydrates as your workout shake and will help stabilize blood sugar levels.

You see, dextrose (aka glucose, the sugar used in most workout shakes) causes a very large insulin spike, and actually can cause insulin to be over secreted. When insulin is over secreted, blood sugar levels will drop rapidly as insulin disposes of the glucose into the tissues and one may even begin to experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Low blood sugar may one to experience an increase in hunger. A lower GI carbohydrate and protein meal post workout will help counteract this negative effect by stabilizing blood sugar levels.

That's all the time I have for now, its back to the gym (and the lab) for me. I have several new projects/articles I am currently working on and when they are finished I can promise that you that all will not be disappointed. The best is yet to come!

Send In Your Questions!

Please send any questions you have to me and I will do my best to answer them. Please try to write intelligently, as it is hard to decipher mumbo jumbo. I do my best to answer all my emails. E-mail me at or find me on the message boards under the screen name str8flexed.