Q & A: Fat Loss, X-Frame Building!

Hey I was wondering if you could help me out with some aspects of my training. I am 17 years old and have been training for 4 years. I played 3 years of football in high school as a defensive end and many colleges are trying to recruit me.
Hey I was wondering if you could help me out with some aspects of my training. I am 17 years old and have been training for 4 years. I played 3 years of football in high school as a defensive end and many colleges are trying to recruit me. I doubt that I want to play for college, but I do wish to continue my commitment to bodybuilding. I am 5'11 and about 184lbs. I have a 33 inch waist. My goal is to lose fat and develop my 6-pack and the x-frame, however I also want to gain muscle as well. My training facilities right now are poor because I work out in my high school weight room, but I usually get a good work out. I am probably going to get a membership to my local gym within the next week. I have enclosed my current routine:

Day 1 (chest, biceps, calves)
Bench Press
Incline Dumbbell Press
Flyes Machine
Barbell Curls
Dumbbell Curls
Hammer Curls
Calf Raises

Day 2 (quads, hams, shoulders, abs)
Squat or Hack Squat
Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Military Press
Front Raises
Lateral Raises
Decline Crunches
Rope Crunches

Day 3 (back, triceps, abs, calves)
Rowing Machine
Dumbbell Row
Upright Row
Decline Sit Ups
Rope Crunches
Calf Raises

Day 4 (optional)

*Rest 60-90 seconds between sets
*2-4 Sets per exercise 8-12 Reps per set
*Eat well and get enough rest
*Stick with training guide
*Don't sacrifice weight for form
*I.C.E. = Intensity, Consistency, Efficiency
*K.I.S.S. = Keep it simple stupid
*Body parts that need work: biceps, calves, abs, shoulders

If I do decide to go to a gym I would probably change this split into a four day split. On the average day I probably eat between 2,500-3,000 calories. I have a pretty clean diet and have one cheat day a week. Most publications say to take at least 1gm of protein per pound of body weight but I have always had a hard time taking in that much.

My current supplements I am using are Hydroxycut, and multivitamins. I have used creatine before and as soon as I have a steady income I will probably reincorporate it into my supplementation routine. I have also heard things about methoxyflavone and ecydysterone. Are these supplements good? I am very skeptical about taking them without much studies to back them up. Ecydysterone is a bug hormone and I'm not much for putting that into my system without knowing I wont turn into a fly or something. lol. Any good supplement recommendations?

That's all for now. Thank you very much,

Teen bodybuilder,
Scott Craig

Dear Scott,
I have reviewed the program you have sent me and I have am going to dispense some of my advice onto you. You can take it for all it's worth and pick and choose what you wish. Just be wise about it. From the physical dimensions you outlined, I would imagine that you have a decent build at 5'11", 184 lbs, and 33 inch waist. Seeing how your diet is already clean, we won't delve too much into that. However, I would advise that you eat around 3000 calories per day give or a take 100-300 calories per day. It is known as the zig-zag method and it works. As far as protein is concerned, experts recommend that you consume 1-1.5 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. You say that you find it difficult to get this much protein in and am curious to know why. If your problem is financial, then there are a myriad of protein powders out there that are effective and inexpensive. You may want to look into that. I'm sure that you know that your carbohydrates should come from complex carbs such as pasta, brown rice, etc and that your fats should be mostly mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil or flaxseed oil. I would break up the 2700-3300 calories this way: 40% carbs, 40% protein, 20% fat. If you're off by a few percent, it doesn't matter that much so do not be obsessive-compulsive about it. I also am glad to see that you are incorporating one cheat day into your diet. If you are really serious about improving your physique, then I would recommend slowly weaning yourself off of the entire cheat day. For instance, when I prepare for a contest I have a cheat meal every 15th to 20th meal depending on how bad I want to cheat on my diet. I will go as long as I can without cheating because your diet is like a car in neutral on a flat surface. Once you have momentum going, it is so much easier to keep the car moving. As soon as you cheat, you slow down the momentum.

Now on to your training. You are using a 3-on/1-off split in a manner that I am unfamiliar with. For starters, I would incorporate the priority principle into your training by attacking my lagging body parts first in the split. This means paying more attention your shoulders, biceps, calves , and abs. If you are being honest with yourself and me, then I would do the following:

DAY 2: BACK/CALVES using low reps and heavy weight(10-20 reps)
DAY 6: QUADS/HAMSTRINGS/CALVES using high reps and lighter weight(20-40 reps)
DAY 8: repeat

Note: After properly warming up, use a pyramiding rep scheme of 12-10-8 reps but no less than 8 reps if at all possible.

I know this is a lot different than what you're used to but the idea here is to allow a clean diet and sound training to slice and dice your physique. If I were to do any cardio, I would do it for 5-10 min. before EACH workout. I've been doing a lot of reading lately and I have come to the conclusion that resistance training is more effective than cardio in maintaining muscle mass while at the same time, increasing one's resting metabolic rate. I believe that the only thing the cardio will do is catabolize precious muscle mass. I also agree with you that you should not sacrifice good form for heavier weight. But do not be afraid to incorporate controlled cheating into your training. It will help you break some plateaus but just don't go overboard with the controlled cheating. This is a fine line which is easy to cross. Now I will outline some exercises which I have found very useful in developing your lagging body parts.

For shoulders, I have found that by fatiguing my shoulders first with seated or standing dumbbell side laterals, I have been able to more efficiently use pressing movements to stress the delts because of their pre-exhausted state. I've also found one arm dumbbell side laterals to be very effective for developing the medial deltoid head. Just maintain good form on these exercises. You will notice who does and doesn't train with good form. Also, don't forget to train your rear delts. Nothing looks better than protruding rear delts when you are doing your quarter turns onstage.

For biceps, I have found that both 2-arm and 1-arm preacher curls are marvelous in developing the biceps. Just make sure you keep your triceps on the arm rest and your elbow down while using a full range of motion. For 2-arm preacher curls, utilize both an inside and outside grip for complete development.

For calves, I have found that using both heavy weights, low reps and lighter weights, higher reps have been instrumental in developing the calves. Sufficient rest is also paramount in their development because the calves, just like all the other muscle groups, can be overtrained. I recommend doing calf raises on a smith machine, calf raises on a leg press machine, and seated calf raises. If you aren't up to that type of training on a particular day, try plyometrics. Those are wonderful for calves.

For abs, the main culprit in developing abs is overtraining. People think they can train their abs every day. I believe otherwise. Train them twice a week at most and train them heavy. Your abs, just like all the other muscles, can both hypertrophy and atrophy depending on the stimulus. We all want the deeply etched and fat free abs. Just pay careful attention to form when training abs and make sure you feel the muscles working. If you can't feel it working, then you're probably wasting your time. For me, decline crunches with and without weight, rope crunches, seated knee-ups, and hanging leg raises have been a mainstay ever since I started training. Utilize a 10-20 rep scheme and squeeze the hell out of your abs.

As far as supplements are concerned, you really don't need them. There is a lot of garbage out there if you really want to find out which ones are best, you need to try them out on your body and see how you respond to them. Once again, let me reiterate that you can make good gains without them. All you have to do is train hard, train smart, and think BIG!

Best Wishes,