Russ Yeager's Questions & Answers!

Check out these awesome questions and answer from various Bodybuilding.com viewers!

I was wondering if you could possibly help me out. I am currently on a low carb/cutting diet less than 100 grams per day. My question is, on my once a week reefeds (Sundays) what percentage of my daily calorie intake should be carbs, protein, & fat.

I Read That A Good Rule Of Thumb When Refeeding Is:

  • Calories - 10 x bodyweight + 10%
  • Carbs - 60%
  • Protein - 30%
  • Fat - 10%

I just wanted to get your opinion and see what your thoughts were. Thanks for all the articles you put out on BB.com they are definitely good info.

I'm glad that you enjoyed my training journal. I have tried the type of diet you are referring to in the past. I lost a lot of bodyfat, but I also lost a lot of muscle and my energy levels suffered.

I got as lean as I have ever been in my entire life, around 5% bodyfat, while continuing to gain/maintain strength in the gym following the workout and nutrition program outlined in my journal. I ate a lot of high quality protein every day, which comprised about 55% of my total daily calories. Remember, that protein builds muscle. Carbohydrates made up approximately 35% of my diet and the remaining 10% was from unsaturated fat. As I strived to lose more bodyfat and get leaner, I simply reduced the number of calories I was taking in each day, but I did not change the percentages from each macronutrient.

When dieting, it really comes down to the number of calories burned vs. the number of calories ingested. Ultra low carbohydrate diets can be effective at decreasing bodyfat, but I believe a better approach is to use a macronutrient ratio similar to the one I described above, and simply reduce the number of calories you are taking in each day based on the results you are seeing. This method will allow you to spare a lot more of your hard earned muscle mass!

You can take a look at my 2003 TRAINING JOURNAL to see exactly what I eat every day. If you follow along you will notice that I will gradually reduce my daily calories as I get closer to my contest on August 9.

When you said I believe a better approach is to use a macronutrient ratio similar to the one I described above, and simply reduce the number of calories you are taking in each day based on the results you are seeing. Does that mean as I continue to lose weight (weekly or daily), I should continue to drop my cals, but keep the same ratios? Right now I'm multiplying my bodyweight x 10 to get my daily calorie total.

I'm currently weighing in at 190 so 1900 cals per day. For example, regarding your statement, if I weighed in at 185 by Sunday I would lower my total cals to 1850. Is that right? I had an opportunity to check out your website and your training journal. Great job done! As you can see I'm currently cutting to get rid of my fat, but after this phase is complete I plan on doing a clean bulk.

Yes, that is exactly what I mean about keeping your ratio of protein, carbs, and fat the same as you decrease your calories. Burning bodyfat comes down do taking in less calories than you consume, no matter what type of calories those are. I feel that this ratio provides the best environment for maintaining and even building lean muscle mass while dieting.

As far as the number of calories goes, that is a little tough to give advice on since I don't know how often you are training, doing cardio, and most importantly what your goals are. The number of calories you are taking in per day would really come down to 1) how much fat you want to lose 2) how quickly you want to lose it. If you want to lose a lot of fat in a little amount of time then your calories will need to be lower (or cardio increased) than if you are allowing yourself more time to lose the same amount of fat. For your weight 1900 calories/day seems pretty low.

The best advice I can give is to give 1900 calories a try for a week and see how your body reacts. If you are losing bodyfat at an acceptable rate and still have energy to train intensely then you are on track. Otherwise, adjust upwards or downwards accordingly by 100-200 calories a day. Does this make sense? Don't get too caught up in calculating your bodyweight by 10 but more on measuring the results you are achieving at a certain calorie level and then making the necessary adjustments.

Everytime I do legs, I always pop blood vessels in my shoulders... is this normal?

I think it is pretty normal to get red marks or even scratches on your rear deltoids when performing barbell squats. I doubt that you are actually 'popping' blood vessels, although it may be possible with heavy weight exerting pressure on the traps. I would not be too concerned about it. If you are worried about the appearance factor then it will help to wear a sweatshirt or use a pad on the bar during your squats.

I am thinking about using a fat burner. Do you know anything about Xenadrine EFX?

Thermogenic ephedrine based fatburners can help to raise your metabolism allowing you to burn more fat. They also give you more energy to train harder. I have used many of the different fatburners in the past. I have used Xenadrine EFX with some good results. However, my favorite Thermogenic product is Dymetadrine Xtreme by AST Sports Science. I use Dymetadrine throughout the year before my workouts for an extra energy boost. I will also use Dymetadrine several times throughout the day when I am trying to lose bodyfat and get very lean for a contest. Give it a try. I don't think you will be disappointed.

I have a question for you... What is your body fat%?

In the pictures on my website it is around 5-6%. That was right at the end of my contest and the leanest I have ever been. I am currently trying to add some quality muscle mass and my calories are relatively high (around 4000/day). Even though I am trying to get bigger I want to stay in pretty good shape. I don't really check my bodyfat regularly.

I go by what I see in the mirror, which I believe to be a much better gauge due to inconsistencies and margin of error with bodyfat testing. Also, I would rather 'look' muscular and lean than being able to tell people I have a low bodyfat %.

My name is Chris Cline and I am a student at UNC Wilmington. I admire your knowledge towards nutrition and bodybuilding. I'm trying to gain a some lean muscle mass without gaining too much bodyfat. Is Cell-Tech Hardcore or Trac better as far as Creatine goes. And for that matter are there any other supplements that would help me also. I already take 10 grams of glutamine, and lots of whey protein in a day.

Thanks for the complement. I am always actively seeking out ways to improve my training and increase my knowledge of bodybuilding and nutrition.

In order to gain lean muscle you need to consume enough quality protein and you need to be consistent every day. It is especially important to consume high quality protein with a high glycemic carbohydrate in the 3 hour "window of opportunity" following you weight training sessions. It is at this time when your muscles are literally starving for protein and glycogen and will uptake these nutrients at an accelerated rate.

I have never used Cell-Tech or TRAC so I can't give an opinion of either of these products. The best combination I have found is Creatine HSC and VP2 Whey Protein Isolate by AST Sports Science. I take 1 scoop of each of these products mixed together in cold water immediately before and after my workouts. The results I have achieved doing this have been outstanding.

Glutamine is definitely a very important product when trying to gain/preserve lean muscle. I would always take some before and after your weight training sessions. Check out my 2003 TRAINING JOURNAL for my current lean mass building diet and supplementation schedule.

I've been following your workout/diet schedule on your website, and have decided to do the Max-OT thing... completed day 2 this morning... but my big question is how you fit cardio in... I love doing about 30-45 minutes nightly, but is that conducive on this work-out plan? What I'm planning on doing is the weights in the morning, then coming back mid-evening and doing the cardio... if that'll fit. Let me know what would be good.

Also, how the hell do you follow that diet? I know there is no chance in hell that I'm going to be able to eat like that (1), and (2) how much freaking money do you spend on supplements a month? The only thing I do is try to eat 5-6 times a day, with some fruit mixed in the morning and afternoons... my only "supplement" is a Myoplex shake for breakfast with a banana mixed in... how do you do you do it?!

I do my weight training in the morning around 7:00 a.m. and then cardio in the evenings about 5:30 p.m. The idea behind the Max-OT program is to space your weight training and cardio out as much as possible (ideally 8-12 hours apart) so it sounds like it will be fine for you to do it the way you said. Just remember never to do your cardio directly before or after your weight training.

The diet part takes a lot of planning and preparation, but once you get used to it becomes habit. In regards to my diet, keep in mind that I am training for a bodybuilding competition. It will be a huge advantage for you to eat 5-6 times a day as opposed to the normal 2-3 of the average person. Just remember to have some source of high quality protein with each of your 5-6 meals.

As for the supplements, once again I am preparing for a bodybuilding contest so I want to use everything I can to get the absolute best results possible. Supplements definitely help but only after your diet is sound. If you are going to just use one supplement then a Meal Replacement is definitely the best way to go. My favorite is Ny-Tro Pro 40 by AST Sports Science. I would also suggest a good multi-vitamin.

The next two supplements I would suggest are creatine monohydrate, which has been proven to help gain strength and add lean muscle mass, and L-Glutamine, which helps prevent muscle breakdown after an intense workout and replenish muscle glycogen stores. I have found AST supplements to be the best I have ever used and I exclusively use them now, and I have used just about everything so that would be my suggestion.

I have a quick question for you. I was reading through your training journal and noticed that you were taking up to 40 grams of GL3 L-Glutamine a day. I was wondering if you noticed any difference from bumping up your dosage? (ex: increased muscle fullness, increased fat loss, strength. etc.) Anyway, I would really appreciate your opinion. I am currently taking 20 grams but am considering more.

Well, I definitely kept my muscles full, lost a lot of fat and gained strength while taking the 40 grams of GL3/day, but its tough to say if it made a significant difference (as opposed to taking 20 grams a day) since there are so many other factors to consider. Based on Skip LaCour's opinion you cannot get enough L-Glutamine! (He takes 15 grams with every single meal.)

That being said, Glutamine is not free, and can be rather expensive if you use large quantities daily, so I would suggest using as much as you can afford to take. I am currently taking 45-55 grams per day.

The best advice I can give you is to try bumping up your dosage of GL-3 from 20 grams/day to 40 grams/day for a couple of weeks and not changing anything else. Then, you can form your own opinion on any increased effects of a higher dosage.

Everything I have read on L-Glutamine says that Glutamine stores are used up very quickly during intense weight training and intense cardiovascular training, so I don't think you need to worry about the GL3 being "wasted". I would definitely take a good dose (5-15 grams) before and after your weight training sessions.

I am really confused in my training, and hoping that you can help me out. I am 178 lbs, 5 ft 10 inches, and have been training since a yr and gained about 22lbs since then. I have been following the system of low reps/high wt, my current w/out schedule is as follows:

    Mon - Quads(8 sets), hams(6 sets), calfs(4 sets)
    Tue - Chest(10-12 sets), forearms (4 sets)
    Wed - Cardio (treadmill/cycle) 45 mins
    Thu - Shoulder (10-12 sets), triceps(6 sets)
    Fri - Back (10 sets), traps (3 sets), biceps (6 sets)
    Sat - Cardio (same as wed)

I have been following this since the last 4-5 mths with variation in the exercises. I have gained muscle and fat in the last yr, and have a bit of a gut which i wanna get rid of along with otherbodyfat, but not at the expense of muscle, so should I:

    1.) Bulk up more then cut down
    2.) Cut down now
    3). Gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

What should i do? What kind of program and diet should I follow? Should I follow high reps or low reps? How many days cardio (same day as weights or on another day?) On the day of cardio do I have to go on a negative calories diet? In my current diet I am getting about 130-150 gms of protein, 280 gms of carbs, and calories roughly 2300-2500. Please could you also answer me the following questions:

1). When it is said that you need extra calories to gain muscle mass, should this come from proteins or carbs or both, and for how long?

2). When you are cutting down, do you gain muscle size or does your muscles only get toned up? I was under the impression that your muscles get only toned, but my trainer told me otherwise.

3). If while cutting up, your muscle size does increase, why do the bodybuilders follow the process of bulking up to get size and then cut down. Why don't they just cut down so they can get ripped and also achieve muscle size?

First off, congratulations on staying with your training program for a year. Staying on a consistent workout program can create very positive changes in your life (better overall health, more energy, better physical appearance, etc.) and many people do not stick with their workout programs.

You have a lot of questions and my best advice would be to read through the information I have on this website. You can follow exactly how I train, what I eat, and what supplements I take in my 2003 TRAINING JOURNAL.

I use the Max-OT style of training, which consists of 4-6 reps per set and working each bodypart once a week. During the 2002 AST World Championships I was able to lose 35 lbs of bodyfat AND gain muscle while getting stronger at the same time, and I was not new to weight training by any means. I think the two key things that I did differently than before was to train with maximum intensity every single workout and to be consistent with my nutrition and supplementation plan every day.

To Try To Answer Your Specific Questions:

1) Protein builds muscle! You need carbohydrates to fuel your workouts but I recommend a diet consisting of approximately 50 % protein 40% carbs and 10% fat. Go to the AST website and check out the 'nutritional calculator'. You can put in your weight, bodytype and activity level and it automatically calculates the number of calories, protein, carbs, and fat you should each day in order to build lean muscle without adding unwanted bodyfat.

2) In order to lose bodyfat you must burn more calories than you ingest. The most efficient way to do this that I have found is intense cardio for 16-20 minutes. You must work very hard but this gets your metabolism burning very high all day. The amount of cardio you perform depends on how much fat you want to lose and how fast you want to lose it. It is okay to do cardio on weight training days, but I would definitely space them out instead of doing them right after each other (i.e. weight train in the morning and cardio at night or vice versa)

3) Some bodybuilders like to "bulk up" during the off season. This is really just an excuse to eat like a pig and get fat. If you eat intelligently and supplement well then you can build muscle without putting on a lot of excess bodyfat.

My best advice is to read the information on this website. I also offer personalized training and nutrition programs that will detail exactly what you need to do in order to get the best results possible.

I am going to start the Max-OT program when I get back from the beach. I signed up for it last week. My only concern is, how protein is too much to the point of being unhealthy and not consuming a "balanced" diet.

Protein builds muscle. It is the only macronutrient that goes directly toward building muscle. I have looked into this topic a good bit and there is no scientific or medical research showing that a high protein diet is 'unhealthy' or causes any medical problems in people who have normal kidney function, nor have I heard of anyone having problems from consuming a high protein diet and following the Max-OT program, except for maybe not being able to fit into their shirts!

I saw your post about preparing for Alabama nationals on Bodybuilding.com. I see that you follow Max-OT... do you really like this plan... I mean it looks good, but I see no flyes for chest which is included in most workouts (especially precontest)... but was just wondering how you liked it and how its worked for you... was thinking about trying it.

I love the Max-OT program! I have been following the Max-OT program for about 2 years and have obtained better results than ever before in my life, and I have been training for quite a while. You are correct that there are no chest flyes in the Max-OT program. Max-OT is centered around producing Maximum Overload to your muscles, which is what causes your muscles to adapt and grow. Therefore, the Max-OT program incorporates exercises that are most effective at producing overload, such as barbell and dumbbell pressing movements for the chest.

Many people think that they can "shape" or "tone" their muscles by doing isolation exercises, such as flyes for chest. However, this is not how resistance training works. You cannot "shape" or "tone" your muscles by performing a particular movement. You can only produce overload and cause the size of your muscle fibers to increase. The "deep cuts" or "shredded" condition comes from losing bodyfat through your diet and cardiovascular program.

Thanks,