Q & A With Randy Herring - Training Tips & Traveling Nutrition.

This in-depth Q & A session will answer some readers questions regarding spot reduction, training tips, how to eat healthy while traveling, and much more.
Click Here For Part 1 - Nutrition
Part 2 - Training
Part 3 - Injuries & Recuperation

    Let me start off by saying I'm a big fan of Reverse Pyramid Training and the Fifteen Rules. Is it more effective to train the same muscle groups three times a week or once a week?

    For example, working arms Monday, Thursday and Saturday, doing everything all three days, or split it up between the various muscles each day?

If you are a beginner and have been consistently training between 0-6 months train all body parts in a workout three times per week.

If intermediate and have been consistently training between 6 months to two years train each body part twice per week training 4 times per week.

If advanced and have over 2 years of consistent training then training a body part once every 4-6 days is appropriate. You can find all these routines and more at the end of my book in Appendix V pages 235-260.

A rule that should remain constant - unless you are an amateur or pro competitor and know what is best for your body - is training NO MORE than 12 sets for a large body part PER WEEK (chest, legs, back) and NO MORE than 9-10 sets for a small body part PER WEEK (shoulders, bis, tris).

Saying this, the number of sets per workout for each body part is then determined by the frequency you train each body part per week totaling the number of required sets in a week (or once every 4-6 days for the advanced).

    Just wanted to say that your book is well written. Being new at bodybuilding I have found it very confusing about what exercises to do, what supplements to take and being in the Middle East does not help much either.

    It seems like everybody just leaves it up to me even if I am doing it wrong or right (I don't even have a spotter and if I try for that "one more" I usually get bad results). It is nice to read your no bull reads.

Glad my book is helpful.

If you are new to bodybuilding, you do not need supplements or a "spotter." If you need a spotter the weight is either too heavy or you do not feel comfortable with the exercise. If that is the case, keep practicing with lighter weight until you get better at doing it and you gain more confidence.

Supplements should be a last resort after you have done everything possible with eating right and exercising consistently to help yourself build muscle and/or lose fat, increase performance, etc. My well rounded 3-day a week full body routine is what you need, which is at the end of my book in Appendix V.

Good luck!

    Reading your article, Ab Training is a "Back Flexion" Movement is very interesting. I have a few questions regarding training the abs, cardio and the best exercise for losing my medium size grease ring around my waist and love handles. I was told that I need to first eliminate that grease by diet and cardiovascular training like running or aerobics, and once it disappears, I could then try exercising the abs to see those muscles.

    Will training the abs burn grease or it is only for growing ab muscles?

There is no reason why anyone cannot lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. With the appropriate program and right amount of training intensity, you can do both. Muscle is "fat burning" machinery. Therefore, it would make sense to do weight training first, followed by cardio.

The last thing you want is to exhaust your cardiovascular system by doing aerobic exercise first and not have enough energy afterwards to stimulate your "fat burning" machinery with the weights because you are too tired! Using weights will stimulate muscle and increase the body's ability to burn more energy after training.

One day a gym member asked me, "How do I get rid of the fat around my middle?" I looked at him and said, "Work your legs, and work them hard! Squat." Why? Some of the hardest and hated exercises in the gym are the best. Squatting is one of them.

In addition, it is the most natural movement we do every day - like going to the toilet. Squats can literally be a cardio workout in itself if the intensity remains constant! Squats boost your heart rate and leaves you gasping for air. Squats have a lot to do with reducing the fat around the middle!

Using my 6-day High-Pulse ® Circuit routine has helped reduce my waistline by 1/2 inch in 2 weeks! Why? Many muscles are constantly in motion! Squatting 70 reps in four sets in 12 minutes definitely helps reduce the fat around the middle! This keeps your body revved up throughout the day, even AT REST. Your body's ability to burn more fat will be greater because of an increase of energy expenditure due to training prior!

If you approach squats, like any exercise or body part, with the right attitude you will gain a better appreciation of it. Pro bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman wears a t-shirt that sums up the right attitude or approach to squatting: "SHUT UP AND SQUAT!"

Anybody can MAX OUT his or her cardiovascular system in just only two sets of squats! People do not know what they are missing without squatting - build muscle & burn fat at the same time!

"Spot reduction" is a myth. Thinking that a person will reduce his or her waist by doing tons of reps of ab exercises does not do it. It is a combination of better eating and knowing how to use ALL YOUR AVAILABLE energy in the gym. I have lost fat around the middle on a number occasions without doing any ab work!

The abs are like any other muscle. Train them and they will grow. Train them with weight, train them by doing those "weighted side bends" exercise and they will get bigger. The last thing people want is a bigger waistline!

    I am a vegetarian, how can I build muscles considering I do not consume meat?

Yes, you can build muscle if you do not consume meat. Below are some considerations you should know and be aware. The information is taken from the National Academy of Sports Medicine Personal Training Certification Manual, page 16:

    For years researchers concluded that vegetarians could easily become protein deficient unless each meal provided a balance of amino acids. Current studies continue to indicate that the body must receive sufficient amounts of the essential amino acids in order to sustain life.

    It is now known that protein requirements in vegetarian diets can be safely obtained through a combination of complimentary plant proteins that work synergistically to produce the necessary amino acid balance. Vegans attempting to increase muscle may need to supplement with amino acids to raise the limiting factor of these protein sources.

    The proper amino acid balance can be achieved by combining foods from two or more of the following sources -

    • GRAINS: barley, bulgur, corn meal, oats, rice, pasta, whole grain, breads
    • LEGUMES: dried beans, dried lentils dried peas, peanuts, soy products
    • SEEDS & NUTS: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, other nuts, nut butters
    • VEGETABLES: leafy greens, broccoli

Make sure you get in enough carbs to use a fuel for your workouts and so you keep your fat burning process fueled after exercise. That should be a reminder for every healthy adult. A 20% protein, 60% carb and 20% fat ratio from total calories consumed is a good food profile. Two famous bodybuilders are known for advocating a vegetarian diet: Bill Pearl and Adreas Cahling (if that is the correct spelling).

    I've got a 41-year old body. I stopped powerlifting 5 years ago and find myself very weak. My question is how do I get some strength back and put on a little size. In my powerlifting days, I had 20-inch arms and a 56-inch chest. I just want to look half that now.

The body is trainable or re-trainable at any age. Regular moderate to vigorous physical activity produces physiologic improvements regardless of age.

Numerous studies (Hagberg, J.M., et al.: Metabolic responses to exercise in young and older athletes and sedentary men - Journal of Applied Physiology, 65:900, 1988) have indicated when a healthy person, young or old, is given an appropriate training stimulus large and rapid improvements in physiologic functions occurs, often at the rate and magnitude that is independent of the person's age.

If the training stimulus is adequate, the muscles of older men and women adapt. These adaptations are particularly apparent with relatively intense training that is continuously adjusted to keep pace with training improvements.

Most people never reach their genetic potential or their specific fitness goals because of incorrect eating, improper supplementation, lack of training stimulus and inadequate rest. Masters Olympia over 60 champion Ed Corney and 1998 NPC USA Bantamweight champion Randy Leppala can testify that the body is trainable at any age!

    I am a 44-year old and 5'4" female who has lost 97 pounds to date using a vegetarian, low-fat diet and still have another 30-40 to drop. I have been walking five miles a day for exercise and working out with video tapes using light weights - 3, 5 and 8 pounds.

    Because of the weight loss I have had so far, I am, obviously smaller than I was, but am not as 'toned' as I would like to be. I believe that will be helped by losing the additional 30-40 pounds, but I am concerned about having 'loose skin' and flabby legs (thighs and butt) and arms.

    Is there any particular exercise with weights that will help to tone up these areas quickly? How long is 'quickly' before results are seen? I would appreciate any help you could share.

Congratulations on your weight loss! Awesome accomplishment. This may not be the answer you are looking for BUT because of your rapid weight loss, you have no doubt lost muscle tissue. That is the "tone" you are looking for.

If losing weight rapidly is your goal and not concerned about what weight is lost (water, fat, muscle) then you are putting your body into a precarious situation. Your skin will become looser because there is no mass between the bones and skin for that firm touch.

I met a man at Gold's Gym that I work at and said he lost over 100 pounds and showed me his loose skin. Then he showed me his before picture. Evidently, he lost weight so fast he lost a great deal of muscle mass. Probably the only thing that could be helped for him is surgery to remove or stretch his loose skin to become tighter.

You need to re-build or at least maintain what muscle mass you have through a weight training program. You will naturally lose muscle mass in your legs since your new weight will not need the additional muscle mass to support your new body weight. If you don't know what kind of weight you are losing you should have a body fat test done once every 4 weeks by a certified trainer to make sure that what you are losing is fat, and not muscle. Losing an additional 30-40 pounds quickly, safely and effectively - and keeping it off - is a 4-pound fat loss per month.

Good Luck!

    I am a 35-year old female who has been at the gym since August of 2001. I lost 50 pounds since December 2001. I went from 29% to 22% body fat. But I am stuck at 150 pounds and want to lose another 20 pounds.

    I take several vitamins and drink a whey protein shake or the Myoplex Lite shake. I eat three meals a day keeping my carb/protein within the same ratio. I weight train 4 times a week. I do my upper body 2 times a week, my lower body 2 times a week, and cardio 6 times a week.

    I am looking to build muscle and lose fat. I always change my routine around but I feel like I am stuck on 150 lb.

Congratulations on joining a club this year and on your weight loss! 22% body fat is within the lean category for women! Keep it up! If you are following the Body for Life program of alternating upper body with lower body doing weight training three days per week, keep doing it!

If your goal is to both build muscle and lose fat, expect your weight to stay the same! If you want to lose 20 pounds, your goal is to maintain the muscle you have and lose fat. That is when/where you will see a change in body weight. Think how you can make an exercise more effective for your working muscles. This will give rise to a higher energy usage during your workouts and then a more prolonged energy burn after, which is what you want for fat loss.

Understand that you have made fitness a "lifetime" lifestyle commitment and remaining active and eating healthy is your primary concern because losing more weight will naturally follow this lifestyle. So at this point, your goal is not to lose more weight rapidly but to keep it off to avoid burning out and to remain interested and motivated.

Besides, once you reach your weight loss goal what is there to do next? In addition, remember, your goal is too lose fat not muscle. Losing muscle will slow your metabolism and add fat to your body. Stay active, eat healthy and follow your exercise program to stay fit for life!

    I have one arm that peaks when flexed and the other is flat. The flat one is stronger. Why is that? How can I get both arms to look and feel the same?

The fact is that no two sides of our body are exactly the same because of differences in muscle attachments. For example, I am more defined on my right side (and I have more of a peak on my right biceps) than my left. In contrast, I have more muscle on my left side but am stronger on my right.

Therefore, if I want to "show-off" my biceps peak I will get into a pose and flex my right arm. If I want to measure or show-off my bicep mass, I will get into a pose and flex my left arm. This might be because my left side is not used as often as my right side (since I am right handed) and therefore has more time to recover and grow! It is all about genetics.

If your flat arm is stronger, it might mean you have "better leverage" of where your muscle attachments are. The arm that is attached closer to your elbow joint is weaker since it requires more work to move the elbow. Getting a mental picture of what I am trying to describe will help understand.

The one that is further away from your elbow joint is stronger because it has more leverage and a shorter range of motion. If you are trying to get one half of your body to look like the other it is next to impossible - just like spot reduction. You can't alter your genetic predisposition.

You mentioned you are carrying a lot of body fat. If you don't have any limitations (joint, back or any other kind of problem that limits your lifting) to decrease your body fat focus on compound movements like squats, bench press, etc. - exercises that involve large muscle groups and stabilizers at the same time. It's a good way to build mass and lose weight. Yes, you can do both!

    I recently ordered and read your book, and I'm looking forward to trying your program. I am a flight attendant and I am flying around the country more than I'm at home a lot of the time. I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to what kinds of foods would be portable while I'm traveling. Eating well while I'm flying is the biggest challenge I face when it comes to getting into better shape.

    The vast majority of the food available to me in the airports and hotels is overpriced fast food. I thought about carrying beef jerky, protein bars, pre-mixed protein drinks, etc., but I'm going to need some solid food in there somewhere. Thanks for sharing your great information with the world.

I've been thinking about your question to see how I could assist you in your situation. Although I had never been a flight attendant, I did do a lot of traveling while in Japan going from one company to another during the day to teach. The exception is that I went home every night, unlike you!

I recall eating (or swallowing) 3 cups of yogurt before training at a convenient store and drinking a liter of non-fat milk while walking down the street to catch my train after training. On trains, I would eat pre-cooked and pre-packed chicken (that I made at home) and soybeans.

Ask anybody serious about getting fit and it'll almost always come down to admitting improper food intake. I agree with you: airport and hotel food is pricey and not very healthy. You are on the right track with the kind of food you mentioned, which I agree to -

  • Beef Jerky. Very high in protein!
  • Protein Bars. Make sure they are low in sugars. Check the fiber to sugar ratio amounts. The more expensive they are the higher protein and lower sugar. I don't use protein bars myself, but choose a brand that you like.
  • Protein Powder. I recommend Optimum Nutrition's Pure Whey Protein. It is low in sugar and high in BCAA content with a lot of Glutamine. Take pre-packaged bags with you and mix them up in milk or juice when you can on flights. With this brand of protein you can take a water bottle and shake the mix up without using a blender. It mixes well.
  • Sandwiches. Pre-make cheese or lean meat sandwiches and bring them with you. Good source of protein and carbs.
  • Nuts. High in protein and fat. The proper amount of fat with each meal(s) helps to keep your body satisfied so you don't get hunger pains and snack on those "bad snacks." Recommend low salt/sodium.
  • Low-Fat Yogurt. Quick high protein/carb meal.

Click Here For Part 1 - Nutrition
Part 2 - Training
Part 3 - Injuries & Recuperation

Thanks,