Eric's Q & A!

I have been so flooded with e-mails, I decided to put a handful of them together to further help everyone at Bodybuilding.com.
Click Here For Part Two
Click Here For Part Three

In this section I will answer many of the questions that I get by e-mail. E-mail me at eric@muscleoverload.com with your question! Try to give me as much detail as possible so I can help you out. Check back often for many more answers!

Thanks a lot for all the helpful info. I'll start incorporating it all on Monday when I go back to the gym. I'm going to stick w/ a 4-day split and do cardio on wed. and sat. (off days) as well as one other day during the week. I'll switch it each week.

One more quick question: why are there so many whey shakes in your sample meal plans as opposed to solid protein food? Would i benefit from having whey as opposed to egg whites in my breakfast? If you're interested, I'll keep you updated on my results.


That sounds like a good plan. Yeah! I would love to know how it all goes and see how your progress. To answer your question, whey is by far the highest quality protein out there and when it is processed correctly, it has numerous heath benefits and its muscle building properties are well documented. I'm actually working on an article on how to pick the right protein supplement and how to make them work better.

In short, whey really can't be matched by any other food out there as far as protein quality and muscle building material, I feel that it should be a major part of your diet, like I outlined in anabolic aerobics. Would you gain benefit from whey instead of eggs?

Well yes, but it would be more effective to add whey to your existing breakfast. Maybe minus a couple of the yolks and replace with a serving of whey.

You'll notice that I always have some kind of whole food WITH my protein supplements or MRPs and typically with a low GI, fibrous vegetable (that's a first glance at the next article).

What does your diet consist of off season??? What does your post workout meal consist of? What do you currently do to supplement fat in your diet both in the off season, and precontest dieting phase?? I really don't get any animal fat in my diet, besides eating fish occasionally, since I eat very lean cuts of meat, and cut off all the saturated fat before cooking. So it is essential that I get enough fat in my diet. Presently I consume around 250-300 grams of carbs on training days, 250-300 grams of protein, and I guess around 40-50 grams of fat. I'd greatly appreciate any information you could provide.

Meal 1: 7:30 1 cup oatmeal, banana, 10 egg white
Meal 2: 10:30 6-8 oz. chicken or tuna, yam, 2 cups broccoli or green beans or cucumbers, 1.5 tsp. flax oil
Meal 3: 1:30 6-8oz. chicken, tuna, or steak, 1 cup cooked brown rice, 2 cups veggies, 1.5 tsp. flax oil
Meal 4: 4:30 Protein shake (50 grams) or tuna, yam, 1.5 tsp. flax oil workout
Post workout shake: 8:00 Protein shake (40 grams protein) mixed w/ 8-10 oz. grape juice (5 grams creatine, 10 grams glutamine)
Meal 5: 8:30-9:00 Tuna or egg whites, 1 cup brown rice or 3/4 cup oatmeal
Meal 6: 10:30 Tuna with 1/2 cup cottage cheese or protein shake, 1.5 tsp flax.
Meal 7: (optional) Protein shake, maybe w/ some natural peanut butter

What are your thoughts on this?? (since i'm working now, I usually don't get home from the gym till around 8, and since I don't like eating carbs late, I might just drink the post workout shake w/ grape juice, and eat the oatmeal/brown rice all at one sitting......) I'm currently about 155-160 lbs....5'8....train 4-5 weeks...not much cardio since my workouts are so intense...lots of drop sets, supersets, etc...

Well here is exactly what I ate during the off season when my calories were at the highest.

4:30am

2 Serving Breakfast Cereal
1 C Skim Milk
1 Scoop VP2

6:00am (Pre-Workout)

1 Scoop VP2
1 Scoop HSC

7:00am (Post-Workout)

1½ Scoop VP2
1 Scoop HSC

7:30am

4 egg whites
1 Serv White Rice(Hi GI)

8:00 - 8:15am

1 Nytro-Pro40
1 serving corn flakes

9:45-10:00am

4 egg whites
1 White Rice
1 Scoop VP2

12:00pm

Chicken Breast Or White Fish
½ Scoop VP2
3 servings veggies

2:30pm

1 Nytro-Pro 40
1/4 C oats
3 servings vegetables

5:00pm

Chicken Breast Or White Fish
3 servings Veggies

7:00pm

Chicken Breast
3 servings veggies
½ Scoop VP2

9:00pm

1 Nytro-Pro40
3 servings vegetables

1:00

1 Scoop VP2
1 C Skim Milk
1 small apple

Cardio Days:

Pre = 1/2 scoop vp2 and 1/2 scoop HSC 5 grams of glutamine and 200 mg of ala

Post = Same as pre

Calories Approx. 3650
Protein Approx. 421g
Carbs Approx. 375g
Fats Approx. 60g

*Crushed flax seeds W/ every meal - Calories = unknown. I moderately salt on all of my food.

I consume a large bit of Hi Glycemic carbs in the morning to get my insulin levels up and drive all the protein into muscle tissue before, during and after my workouts. I also take 400mg of ALA, and 10g of glutamine before and after as well. I want my meals in the 3 hours after my works outs to be easily digestible and assimilated quickly. The longer it takes to get those nutrients to muscle, the more breakdown can occur. But it looks like you got that part covered.

For my fats I put about a teaspoon of crushed flax seeds on everything I eat. And I take 5-6g of CLA a day.

There is absolutely no reason to avoid carbs at night, the growth process requires them just as much during the night as it does during the day. Don't get sucked into that wives tale that they will be converted to fat. This simply isn't true. If your calories and total carb intake are in check for the day, you have nothing to worry about. And as you can see, I get up in the middle of the night and have a good dose of carbs and I do not add unwanted body fat.

Secondly, although those techniques you mentioned; super sets, drop sets, etc my be considered "intense", they have very little influence on stimulation of muscle growth. You have to realize that mechanical Overload(maximal weights/poundage) is what stimulates the most muscle fibers to grow. A drop set is nothing but a continual reduction of that stimulus. And a superset, just makes you tiered and prevents you from lifting as much as you could have done with a normal rest period. The same thing applies to isolation movements. If a compound movement can be used, use it. stay away from flys, crossovers, preacher curls or anything else that is attempt to "isolate" a certain muscle. All you are doing is lessening the stimulus.

Precontest dieting is nothing "mystical" in fact it is the same as the above except I subtract about 150-300 calories a week all the way up until the show and increase the amount of cardio. That all that really changes. And yeah, calories get REALLY LOW. By about 2-3 weeks out I will be consuming around 13-1200 calories a day and doing probably 10+ short intense cardio sessions a week...No I'm not joking.

At 11 weeks out here is what I'm eating this week:

4:30am

1 Serving Breakfast Cereal
1 C skim milk
1 Scoop VP2

6:00am (Pre-Workout)

1 Scoop VP2
1 Scoop HSC

7:00am (Post-Workout)

1½ Scoop VP2
1 Scoop HSC

7:30am

4 egg whites
1 Serv White Rice(Hi GI)

8:00 - 8:15am

1 Nytro-Pro40
1 serving corn flakes

9:45-10:00am

½ Serving rice
1 Scoop VP2

12:00pm

Chicken Breast Or White Fish
3 servings veggies

2:30pm

1 Nytro-Pro40
3 servings vegetables

5:00pm

Chicken Breast Or White Fish
3 servings Veggies

7:00pm

½ serving oatmeal ½ Scoop VP2

9:00pm

1 Nytro-Pro40
2 servings vegetables

1:00

1 Scoop VP2
1 C Skim Milk
1 apple

Calories Approx. 3281
Protein Approx. 346g
Carbs Approx. 328g
Fats Approx. 60g

* Crushed flax seeds W/ every meal - Calories = unknown.

And starting Monday another drop will be made, I think I Will cut out about 220 calories this week. Despite what all the magazines and what not would have you believe, there is nothing magical about loosing fat or building muscle. In fact it is un-godly simple. You don't need to eat 6,000 calories to build muscle, and yes you can build muscle while in a moderate calorie deficit. The only problem is, you can't fill a magazine every week with the things that I've said here...

So, people become creative, and this is where all this stuff like super sets, drop sets, monster sets, pre exhaustion, no carbs at night, cardio in the morning before you eat garbage comes from. These "researchers" will skim an article or just the abstract and twist a paragraph around here, tweak a sentence there and bam, you've got the next big fitness craze.

I hope this helps out, If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

I wish I knew where you were so I could shake your hand. I just finished reading your article Anabolic Aerobics, and I can't tell you how awesome I thought it was. I've had suspicions for years about many of the things you wrote; however, I couldn't believe them because they would fly in the face of every bodybuilding and fitness magazine I've ever read. Like you wrote, everyone thinks aerobics burns muscle. Anyway, thanks for the great article, and as soon as I finish this e-mail to you, I'm going to read the rest of your articles that I can get my hands on.

Firs though, I had a few questions. I'm sure you're very busy, but I can't tell you how much it would mean to me if you could please answer these questions for me. If you don't like typing, and you don't mind giving me your phone number, I'll even call you long-distance when it's convenient for you to get the answers. Anyway, here are the questions...

    1. You said that aerobics should have the same post-workout meal as a weightlifting session; however, I've always been told for maximum fat-loss, that it's essential to wait an hour after aerobics before eating. This way the body can continue to burn fat. Have you ever heard that before? So should we consume our aerobic post-workout meal 1-hour after performing aerobics, or immediately after performing aerobics like we do after weightlifting?

    2. I've always been told aerobics performed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, burns much more fat than aerobics after eating, for the simple reason that if you eat first, you'll burn the food you ate. However, I got the impression from you that we should eat before aerobics just like we do before weightlifting. Can you please clarify for me?

    3. I lift weights 3 times per week, and perform aerobics three times per week. Is it better to take off the 7th day completely, or add an additional day of aerobics?

    4. For the 20 minutes of aerobics, is it best to follow the same intensity the whole time, or cycle the intensity, i.e. 1 minute high, 1 minute low, 1 minute high, 1 minute low, etc.

    5. You wrote that, "If for some unknown reason you decide to do more than one cardio session a day, the release of GH is magnified with every time." If it'll get me better fat-loss and muscle gains, I'll do aerobics twice per day. So should I do aerobics twice per day? If so twice per day on aerobic days only, or twice per day on aerobics and weightlifting days?

    6. You wrote that, "It seems that after about 20 minutes of high intensity work, cortisol levels shoot through the roof." Does this mean that our weightlifting sessions shouldn't be longer than 20 minutes, or that they shouldn't be high intensity so they don't encourage the production of cortisol? Or were you only referring to cortisol releasing after 20 minutes of aerobics, not weightlifting? Because I heard it takes 45 minutes of weightlifting to release cortisol. Anyway, thanks again for the great article, and I can't tell you how much I would appreciate it if you could answer my questions.

Thanks for the feed back, and I hope you get the same type of results everyone else has. But, I'll be the first to admit, it isn't going to be the most enjoyable 15min of your life :-) .

Well, lets attack these questions.

1.

Yes I have head this before and as a matter of fact I've read the study that this theory is based on. I can firmly say its a load of crap. Who ever came up with that theory either read the abstract or doesn't know how to read a study at all. You see in the study they put the subjects in a calorimeter, which is a chamber that can actually determine how many calories you burn, they were then put on diet that met those calories needs.

There were then exercised and again calories were measured. After working out, they some of the subjects consumed a massive feeding of ice cream, milk fruit and a bunch of other stuff that was the exact same amount of calories as were burned in the exercise. As you know, fat is burned in periods of a caloric deficit and in this study they filled that deficit. And secondly the study flat out stated, that a caloric deficit is still the primary factor in overall fat loss. That study was only looking at what our body utilizes as a fuel, not changes in body composition or fat loss or metabolic rates at all.

Don't confuse the phrases 'fat mobilization' and 'fat utilization/oxidation' with fat LOSS. In both groups the resting metabolic rate was the same so the only reason that the "fed" group say a halt in fat utilization was because their calorie needs were met and exceeded at that time. fat loss comes down to a calorie deficit over time, not at a certain time, but at the end of a day, week, or month. So no, you shouldn't wait an hour, you'll be in a very highly catabolic state and the longer you wait, the more risk you run of negating those positive effects I talked about.

Focus on your calorie intake from a 24 hour perspective and not just when you work out. Fat is the fuel for very low intensity activity, like sitting on your ass! we are burning AND storing fat all day, so trying to force it to burn at a certain time is useless. Trust me, I've been doing the before and after thing for a long time and it has actually helped my fat loss.

2.

Well much like I said before, don't confuse "fat mobilization" or "substrate utilization" with fat loss. yes you are forcing your body to utilize more fat for energy, but this doesn't mean its a lot. Fat requires a HUGE amount of oxygen to be broken down to an energy source. In relative terms 1 molecule of fat needs 16 molecules of oxygen where as glycogen or stored carbs doesn't technically need any.

You need to realize that there is never a time when any one source is being used as fuel. Fat, carbs, and proteins are always being used in some fashion. one typically more than others however. For high intensity work its about 90-95% carbohydrate(glucose/glycogen). If you don't have any available, it will make some, and the only other choice here is protein because fat takes too long. So you will end up burning muscle in this case.

Fat loss is really a matter of total calorie intake. there some other factors and I really put them into play in the article. I like to refer to it as the "sniper" Method of eating. You should strategically time your food intake for when you muscles need it the most.

And on a final not, after a nightly fat, the primary catabolic hormone is glucogon and its job is to destroy tissue to be used for fuel in the absence of carbohydrate and insulin. Then you go exercise and that throws epinephrine, nor epinephrine and cortisol on top of that! That's a formula for disaster.

3.

I think the day off would do you good. However, I would suggest not being a total slug. Go out for a walk or get out and do some shopping, whatever.

4.

well I prefer the constant level of intensity. I'll do a moderate 3 min warm up and just go from there. However, you need to be honest with yourself and give it you best shot and not "save some for later". However, it really doesn't matter as long as you give it a hard effort all the way through.

Many machines have a "hills" setting and that's fine but you still have to push it hard through the easy part. You know what I'm saying? There should never really be a "low" Intensity. It you're main priory to kick your metabolism in the ass...Its only 15min, you can take it.

5.

I would say on aerobic days. and space them out as much as possible. If you d o2 session on weight training days you're kind of cutting it close and that could lead to over training. I think the Am/Pm deal is your best bet. But yeah, after work outs GH spikes and once it is allow to return to normal levels, the second spike is higher, and the third is even higher. However, if the levels aren't allowed to return to normal, that effect never happens.

6.

You've got a good eye, but here's the catch 22. aerobic training is continuous. So that's 20 min of non-stop all out work. In weight lifting there is lots of rest. If you were to take a stopwatch and time how long you are actually working, it actually very short. as little as 5 min. But you're right, after about 40min or so cortisol does kick in for weightlifting. So You'll be fine with a 45min weight training session.

The study I looked at was only on aerobics. But I'm not kidding when I say it goes through the roof. And it unless you follow that supplementation protocol it will continue to go up for another 30-40min. Are you seeing how everything is tying together now?

Hey, thanks for the input, I appreciate it. I hope you'll be another success story! I hope I cleared all that up for you, if not feel free to ask again

Man you look Great! I have read some of your Articles and its very nice to more and more new things in bodybuilding. I have a Question for you. How can I get my Abs in good shape in 7 weeks from know?

Getting your abs in "good shape" is only a matter of having a lower amount of body fat. The muscle is already there and looks the way it will always look, you just need to uncover them. I suggest following the basic outline I in my article Anabolic Aerobics . You will also have to start reducing your calorie intake slightly to create a calorie deficit. So start keeping a log of EVERY last thing you put in your mouth and how many calories you eat.

I would also recommend training your abs with heavy weights once a week to make them stand out more, Forget the 300 sit-ups a day crap. IT WON"T HELP YOU.

When you say "Bulking Phase" how many Exercises do you recommend for that. And how many Exercises do you recommend for getting in Contest Shape and how much time to take.

Like for example my Split will look like this.

Monday - Back (am)
Monday - Arms (pm)

Tuesday - Off

Wednesday - Aerobics and Abs

Thursday - Thighs(am)
Thursday - Shoulders (pm)

Friday - Chest (am)
Friday - Forearms, calves

Saturday - Off

Sunday - Aerobics and Abs

That's it. Any inputs will help.

Actually regardless of if I'm in a "bulking" phase of not, everything stays the same. When I'm getting ready for a contest, I'm still trying to build muscle. I continue to lift extremely heavy weight and strive to lift more every week. I never go lighter and I never increase the amount of reps or volume.

My current schedule (12 weeks from show) looks like this:

Monday - Shoulders & tri's (am) I aim for weight that will allow for 4-6 reps per set

DB shoulder press 2 sets
Side laterals 2 sets
Rear delt raise 1 set

1 set of 1 arm DB shoulder press on a Swiss Ball - this is for core strength development NOT trying to "shock" the muscle or anything like that.

Push downs 2 sets
Lying overhead triceps extensions 2 sets

Tuesday - Back & Bi's (am)

Pull downs to the front(narrow grip) 2 sets
Cable rows narrow grip 2 sets
BB rows 1 set

1 arm DB rows on a Swiss ball for core strength development 1 set

BB curls 2 sets
DB curls 1 set

PM cardio

Wednesday - Legs

Calf press off of leg press 2 sets
Seated calf raises 2 sets
Front or back squats 2 sets
Leg press 2 sets
Stiff legged Dead lifts 2 sets

Thursday - Chest & Core

BB Flat bench 2 sets
DB incline bench 2 sets
Weighted Dips 1 set

1 arm DB chest press on Swiss ball for core strength development

Swiss ball Crunches 2 sets
Swiss ball leg raises 2 sets

PM cardio

Friday - Traps And forearms

Sumo Deadlifts 2 sets
BB Shrugs 2 sets
Upright rows 2 sets
BB wrist curls 1 set
BB Wriest extinctions 1 set
Standing DB wrist curl/extension 1 set

Sat/sun - AM cardio

The closer I get to a show the only thing I do different is more cardio and reduce the amount of calories I eat and that's it. When I lift, my goal is to stimulate the growth process, and when I do cardio my goal is to create a calorie deficit and if you follow anabolic aerobics, it will both directly and indirectly aid the muscle building process.

However, in my mind, I keep muscle building and fat burning as two separate things. I don't try to use weight to burn up fat or cardio to build muscle. I also don't feel that a large volume is needed. After 2 set of an extremely heavy load, the chances of me doing a third set at that weight is slim. Even On biceps. after back 3 sets is all I can do before I'm fried. I give everything I've got on every rep of every set.

With my age and my family lifestyle I can't change the way I eat a great deal but I try to follow this Wake up about 5 take 2 Hydroxycut. Wait half hour do 20 minute cardio Then eat my breakfast which is go lean kashi cereal and some egg whites.

About 11 I eat a turkey sandwich When I get home I have a can of tuna with some no fat mayo and ketchup At this time I plan to go to the gym about 330 so it will leave me to come home in line for 5.. which will lead to my "window" for my dinner which I eat a lotta protein and Low and Hi GI carbs... is this optimal??? or is there a better way

Well optimal is a very abstract word, it depends on what exactly you are trying to accomplish.

For starters I would suggest not to do any kind of physical activity on and empty system. you should always eat before working out. Even if it something light like egg white and some Gatorade. Something simple and light like this only takes about 20-30 min to actually empty from the stomach. So by the time you get into your work out…you will have an empty stomach.

You should have something similar before you go to the gym to work out.

Having a lot of protein at one time isn't the answer to anything. Protein intake needs to be consistent all day, every day. Even if you don't work out. Also, this "window" is much bigger than you think. Its about 3 hours. so rather than eating "a lot" all at once, I would eat 3 small meals every hour on the hour.

I have the Hi GI carbs w/ protein immediately after you are done working out. Not when you get home, not 15 min later, but ASAP. again, something simple like Gatorade and some protein is fine. Save the lower GI foods for the latter part of the 3 hours.

And depending on what time you go to bed, you should eat something about 30-45 min before you turn in. I go to bed around 9:30-10pm and eat around 9pm.

I find it interesting that you say with your life style you can't change the way you eat. if there is one thing that you have absolute control over, it is what you eat. No one says you must eat this or that. There is no law that say you can not eat this or must eat that. You have control over what you put in your mouth and when. Today for example, I knew that I was going to be out of the house from 8 am, to pm. That's along time.

And because I eat small frequent meals every couple of hours that's a lot of food. I didn't count on a restaurant or fast food I had to cook 5 meals in advance and take them with me. I think one of the biggest challenges is getting over what others think about what we eat. or when. Sometimes If its not "appropriate" To eat where I am I'll excuse my self to the bathroom and eat in there.

Now these are general suggestions, I don't know who you are, what you are trying to accomplish or anything about you really. But in any case, these suggestions I have made would be an improvement and a step in the right direction.

I hope this helps little.

Hi, I've just read your article regarding nighttime nutrition and I've one argument with it. I don't mean to be criticizing your article but I feel its a point that should be cleared up. Its regarding the G.I. rating of lactose. agreed it is a low rating but all this indicates is the speed at which the carbohydrates enter the bloodstream after a meal.

The actual insulin response from lactose is similar to that of foods high on the G.I. scale. a better reference would be to the Insulin Index which is the response of insulin to foods. I hope u take this on board and spread it to your disciples. keep up the good work.

Well the idea is to pick something that does enter the blood at a slow rate and continuously. In all honesty, whole milk would be even better. But its more a matter a of preference. And you could take it even a step further and have a small bowl of vegetables to giver your body to "chew" on and pretty much ensure your supplements aren't used as an expensive energy source. But to get back to the issue at hand;

I have seen a couple studies that have shown milk to illicit a high insulin response, but I think that something wasn't exactly kosher. You have to realize that insulin is secreted in proportion and response to the presence of glucose appearance. The two are very tightly correlated. And for this reason I feel that the GI is a very good indication of what is happening. There is an excellent book: THE GI FACTOR, that really explains it well.

Currently, after writing "building muscle 24/7", I adapted a new method with a fibrous food as well to the plan. Now I have 1 C skim milk, 1 scoop of hydrolyzed whey isolate, 500mg NAC, 5g L-Glutamine and 1 medium sized apple.

I know that creatine helps you when you take it but what do I do if I want to get kind of buff and decrease my fat % from 18% to like 6 or 7 but I know that if I get down there and then don't take creatine for I week or two I will lose most of my muscle so what else would you suggest that will have long term effects? Because I want to get big and live my life not have to be taking creatine for the rest of my life.

The muscle mass you gain while supplementing with creatine is yours to keep as long as you continue to train hard when you stop. You will loose the few lbs of extra water that is held inside the muscle cells as a result of your creatine supplementation, but don't confuse that with "loosing muscle"

Click Here For Part Two
Click Here For Part Three

Thanks,