First off, I just want to apologize that it's taken me so long to get back to everyone about their questions. I was in the process of moving in to a new house, and teaching at another school, and I hardly had any free days.
My life has returned to normal now, and I'm going to get around to answering everyone's questions. If you've sent me a question, even if it was back in August, you'll have an answer in one of these Q and A columns; just keep checking back, because I don't e-mail people and tell them when they're question is on the site.
[ Q ] Do you know anything about this new vet product called kynoselen? Is it alot of hype way overrated?
[ A ] Hi Brian,
Thanks for the question. I'm an elementary school teacher, and I love teaching fitness, as much as I love teaching children. Well, one thing I've always wanted to make sure is that I wouldn't be one of those teachers who act like they know everything. I told myself I'd never try to bluff an answer or talk about something, which I don't have much knowledge on the subject.
Your question on kynoselen happens to be one of those topics. I did a search for kynoselen on the bodybuilding.com forums, and there were a number of threads. I read some of the threads, and I'll tell you that there seemed to be a pretty large division on the product. Some people said it worked great, and some people said it didn't work at all.
In my opinion, that's enough reason to stay away from the product. If the product was that great, I don't think there would be any division at all. For instance, how many people do you hear complaining that
whey protein don't work? Why don't people argue over those two? Because they both work. People might argue over the brand name, type to use, how to use them, but not about their benefits.
Bodybuilding contains some opportunity cost. In other words, you buy one supplement at the expense of another. I don't think any of us have enough money to use all the supplements we want; therefore, I would spend your money on reputable, well-established supplements like creatine, protein powders, meal-replacements, vitamin and mineral supplements, etc.
Then, if you want to spend even more money, I would look into glutamine, and more expensive variations of those products listed (i.e. whey protein isolates, versus whey concentrate, and creatine with a transport, versus plain creatine monohydrate.
If you decide to use kynoselen, please let me know how it works for you.
[ Q ] Hello Scott,
I have a question that really baffles me. I noticed that I gain more strength with 8-12 reps rather than 1-7. For example, I benched 120 about 8-12 reps for 4 sets, and the next bench workout I added 5 pounds and still did about the same number of reps from the previous workout. But when I do about 3-7 reps and try to add 5 pounds on the next workout, I either do the same reps or less. What is up with that?
Also one more thing I can't get over. I always think muscles grow when you're sore, but everyone says that does not matter. For example at the end of my workouts I know if I had a good intense workout and the next day my muscles are sore, but when I feel my workout did not go so well they are hardly sore the next day, that's the reason why I cant get over it also with low reps I hardly get sore and I noticed my strength go up when I'm sore.
Please help! Thanks!
[ A ] Hello,
I don't think I understand what you're asking in your first question. I think you should use enough weight to do complete less 7 reps, but not so much weight that you can't complete at least 4 reps. In other words, use enough weight to hit muscular failure in the 4-6 rep range on all exercsies, except for calves, forearms and abs.
For those muscle groups I recommend a slightly higher rep range, because it's not practical to use the 4-6 rep range for those muscles. For calves and forearms I use a 6-8 rep range, and for abs I use a 8-12 rep range.
Regarding soreness, I have heard differing schools of thought. Some people say that soreness is the sign of a good workout, while others say you can have a good workout without being sore. I think both schools of thought are correct. I think soreness is the sign of a good workout; however, I also think you can have a good workout and not be sore at all.
If you've been workout out for a while, you're not going to be as sore as when you first start working out, or when you start working out again after a layoff. I've been working out regularly for years, but most of my muscles (chest, back, quads, hamstrings, triceps and calves) are still sore after every workout.
My abs, shoulders and biceps are rarely ever sore. I started training biceps after back the other day though, and my biceps were very sore the next day. Two workouts ago, my calves were really sore, but after their last workout, I couldn't even tell they had been trained. I guess I'm trying to say that sometimes soreness changes from workout-to-workout.
I enjoy being sore. I think it's the sign of a good workout, but if I'm not sore, it doesn't necessarily mean I had a bad workout. If a muscle isn't sore, it doesn't mean it's ready to be trained again either. Like I said, some of my muscles are never sore, but I still don't train them any more often than any other muscles. My biceps and shoulders are hardly ever sore, but I don't train them more often than my chest, back, triceps and legs which are always sore.
The majority of muscle soreness comes from the negative portion of the lift. If you've read any of my articles, you know I'm a huge proponent of accentuating the negative portion of every lift. In other words, lift very heavy, but lift slow and controlled. If you do that, you will be sorer, and I think that's a good thing.
I was wondering, if you could explain to me how to get a six pack in a month? I have tried everything I could think of and I still look the same.
[ A ] Hi Sean,
I'd like to help you more, but I don't have enough information to give you much of an answer. I included this question in here to remind people that they need to tell me as much information as possible.
Everyone has abs, if you didn't, you wouldn't be able to walk around or perform any exercises in the gym. There's a difference between having abs and seeing your abs. I always had abs, but I never saw them until I lowered my bodyfat percent into the single digits...closer to 7 percent to be exact.
So the real question should be: How Do I See My Abs? And the answer to that is to lower your bodyfat percentage.
Two Things To Reduce Bodyfat Percentage:
When people ask me what I do for my abs, I point to the cardio equipment. Honestly, I don't think having a sixpack has much to do with ab training. If you don't believe me, consider how many machines there are on the market. How many advertisements for different abdominal machines have you seen? Do you ever see any advertisements for any other muscle groups nearly as much as abs?
There is a multi-million dollar business revolving around abdominal machines; therefore, many people are training their abs. However, how many people have a sixpack? Hardly anyone, so it doesn't have that much to do with training your abs. People don't lack the training, they lack the discipline in their diets.
When people ask me what I do to get a "six-pack" I point to the cardio machines, and tell them I eat healthy. Cardio and nutrition are what allow you to "see" your six-pack. Read my article on cardio for help on performing cardio, and I'll have an article out soon detailing my nutrition from the Body-for-Life contest and that should help you in the nutrition department...actually, the article should be up right now, or in the next couple of days.
Also, unless you're already pretty lean, I don't know if you can get a six-pack in one month. You can lose 2 pounds per week, without losing much muscle. That equals 8 pounds per month. If you weigh 200 pounds, and you're at 15% bodyfat, then you have 30 pounds of fat on your body.
If you lose 8 pounds in one month, and we'll assume all of it is from fat (which would be very difficult), then you've still at 11% bodyfat. You'd still have 22 pounds of fat on your body. You still wouldn't be able to see your abs until you drop another 3-5%. If you were at 10% bodyfat and lost 8 pounds of fat, then you'd be around 6% and your abs should be pretty visible then.
Whatever the case, it depends where your bodyfat is to start. Since I can't help you more, focus on eating clean (high protein, healthy fats, low-to-moderate low glycemic carbs) and performing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
[ Q ] Hi Scott,
I am in a fix and hope you can help, I have been told by my doctor due to a heart condition I can only weight train with no more then 15 reps but I want to get as big and strong as possible what can I do and how can I train with high reps and still put on muscle mass?
[ A ] Troy,
I don't know what the deal is with doctors. Some of the recommendations they give people regarding nutrition and exercise make no sense to me. Sometimes I think that doctors might know a lot about medicine, but not much about nutrition and fitness. I don't know why he would tell you not to do less than 15 reps. If you have a heart condition, 15 reps of squats, or some other multi-joint compound exercise is going to push your heart harder than doing less reps.
Anyway, I'm not a doctor, and maybe he knows something I don't, so I guess you better listen to him. The good news is that muscle gain or fat loss is 70% or more nutrition. In other words, if you want to gain muscle, or lose fat, you need to eat plenty of protein, healthy fats, and moderate glycemic carbs. I don't know how fast your metabolism is; however, if you start gaining more fat than muscle, than you're eating too much...or not doing enough cardio.
What did your doctor tell you about cardio? Hopefully he told you to do some to strengthen your heart. If you want to gain size, then make sure you don't do too much cardio. If you're going to be doing some, or a lot of cardio, then make sure you're taking in enough calories to offset the calories burned during cardio. It's unfortunate that you can't train with heavier weights and low reps, but your rep range is really minor compared to your diet.
Also, if you want to put on size, make sure you're not overtraining. Make sure your workouts are short and intense. That doesn't mean using a bunch of forced reps, it just means focusing on the negative, and taking each set to positive failure.
I would also like to know how to build bigger calves as I have been doing 100 standing calf raises in the morning and at night every day and nothing is happening, also do you know any good exercises to build the v shape at your groin area, or does that come under abs?
[ A ] If you want to follow a 3-day split, I would use a push-pull system:
- Monday - Legs & Abs
- Tuesday - OFF
- Wednesday - Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
- Thursday - OFF
- Friday - Back, Traps, Rear-Delts, Biceps & Forearms
- Saturday & Sunday - OFF
If you want to follow a 4-day split, then look at the one I outlined in my third part on nutrition that I wrote for "How I won the Body-for-Life contest." If you want to follow a 5-day split, then look at the one I outlined in the first part on training that I wrote.
Here are some quality protein sources: fish (salmon, tuna and cod), eggs, chicken breasts, turkey burgers, cottage cheese, milk, protein powder (whey, egg, casein and milk), lean red meats, nuts, all-natural peanut-butter.
As far as when you should eat these protein sources, you should have protein at every meal. There is no time when your body doesn't need protein. Take in at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight. I take in around 2 grams per pound of bodyweight. Spread this protein out over 6 meals. If you want to have more than 6 meals, that's even better.
You're training your calves too often, and your reps are too high. I recommend you train your abs like any other smaller bodypart, like biceps or triceps. For me, that means 5 sets, hitting them hard one time per week. Your abs are trained during every workout during every multi-joint compound exercise (which are the kinds of exercises you should be using if you want to gain mass, i.e. bench presses, deadlifts, squats, military presses, barbell curls, etc).
I train my calves with a slightly higher rep range (6-8), because it's impractical to train them in the 4-6 rep range. I don't know why so many people train their calves and abs differently than any other muscle. If you train your calves or abs with high reps, and you train them multiple times per week, you'll overtrain them, and/or improve their endurance but do nothing for their size.
I never thought anyone would ever ask me how to build the "v-taper at your groin area." I'm assuming you're asking about your lower abs, and that means performing lower ab exercises like leg raises or reverse crunches. I perform 5 all-out sets for abs each week, and 2 sets are dedicated to my lower abs.
Regardless of how well you train your abs, if you can't see them, you might as well not have any. In other words, you could have the best abs in the world, but if you don't have a bodyfat low enough to see them, then the training is irrelevant; therefore, you need to get lean through cardio and a healthy diet.
Let me know how things go!
I saw you on Bodybuilding.com.... man, you look awesome!!! I myself am following the structure of workouts you are (the max-OT style).... my question is, how do you structure your meals?
You and I have a similar frame and I would like to know how many of your meals are MRP's vs. real food? I have been following Jeff Willet's plan (calories tailored to my 155 lbs.- about 10 small meals a day, mostly shakes and veggies, but I am wondering if I can get that "dry" look on contest day using so many shakes.
Any pointers you may have???
Thanks so much for your time!
USBF Natural Bodybuilder
[ A ] Hi Chris,
Thanks for the compliment. By the time you read this, my third installment on nutrition for How I Won the Body-for-Life Contest has been published on bodybuilding.com. If it hasn't, it will be soon, and then you'll have know exactly how I ate during the contest, and how I still pretty much eat today.
Regarding whether you can get that "dry" look on contest day using mostly shakes, I would say the answer to that is definitely yes. You mentioned Jeff Willet's meal plan, so I'm sure you've also seen how he and Skip LaCour looked on contest day. They're both definitely "dry" and most of their calories come from shakes pre-contest. I can tell you that a little more than half of my calories came from shakes during the contest, and I felt great about how "dry" I looked.
I don't know why so many people recommend regular food over shakes. Don't get me wrong, half of my meals are from whole food, but people still insinuate that whole food is better than supplements. I don't know where that thinking comes from considering whole food and supplements still contain the same nutrients, just in different forms.
Regardless of how many shakes you take, you're still going to need to eat plenty of vegetables, because there are nutrients (photochemicals) in vegetables that aren't present in shakes. Plus, most shakes (with the exception of the new Myoplex Deluxe formula) are low in fiber.
Regarding pointers for you, I really didn't do anything special for my photo shoot. I actually looked my best around the 10 week mark, but wanted to get even leaner and continued doing cardio. I didn't get any leaner in the last two weeks, but I did lose some muscle.
Anyway, my point is that up to that 10 weeks, I hadn't done anything except work hard (intense cardio and weightlifting), eat clean (high protein and healthy fats, and low-to-moderate carbs), and get plenty of sleep. All the guys I know at the gym want quick fixes, because they can't be disciplined with their diets. They think some supplement or pill is going to get them in shape; however, it doesn't work that way.
I looked my best around week 10, and I hadn't done anything special except work hard and stay disciplined during the previous ten weeks.
Please keep in touch and let me know how you do in the future.
I have been reading your articles on Bodybuilding.com and wanted to know if you could post a sample of your diet, the articles were very informative not to mention your success was very motivating.
Thanks again and keep up the good work!
[ A ] Hello Mike,
Thanks for the compliment and e-mail. Like I mentioned in the previous answer, hopefully by the time you're reading this, the third part on nutrition that I wrote for How I Won the Body-for-Life contest should be posted. That will answer all of your questions regarding my diet.
What does a typical day look like for your meals? How many Myoplex do you take a day? What else do you eat?
[ A ] John,
Like the previous two questions, hopefully by the time you're reading this, the third part on nutrition that I wrote for "How I Won the Body-for-Life" contest should be posted. That will answer all of your questions regarding my diet. Sorry it took so long.
How's the 6 meal plan going to work with 4 supplements for my teacher. Does "free day" mean he can eat whatever he wants for each Saturday? For healthy meals, are there any quick easy recipes? How did u manage your meal schedule? Can u show me an example?
[ A ] Hi Sean,
I don't know what 4 supplements you're talking about.
On your teacher's free day, yes, he can eat whatever wants. I would recommend still drinking plenty of water and taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement though.
There are plenty of quick and easy recipes for meals. I cook once every three weeks, because I hate cooking and cleaning. I cook a ton of chicken, salmon, and turkey burgers. Then I put them in the freezer in containers, and bring them down as they're needed. If you don't like the same foods all the time, then invest in some spices and marinades.
Here's a link to a lot of great, tasty, nutritious, quick and easy recipes on the Body-for-Life website: http://www.bodyforlife.com/nutrition/index.asp. Also, Bill Phillips, the author of Body-for-Life, came out with a great cookbook with tons of awesome recipes.
Bodybuilding.com sells the book here. The book also has a lot of great diet and nutrition information along with recipes. If your teacher is following Body-for-Life, or just wants some recipes and great information, he should definitely get the book.
An example of my meal schedule is in my last installment, which should be posted now, or in the very near future.
Hope that helps!
I saw your story on Bodybuilding.com and was inspired; also it looks as if you might be a Christian. I need some swift advice because everything I read seems geared to building mass and I'm confused. I am 36 years old, 286 pounds. Most of my life I have been a big guy but have a thin muscular frame underneath. In high school, I was a shot-putter and did powerlifting for 4 years and bulked up.
I have gained and lost weight, been as low as 200 pounds in college yet struggle. When I lost the weight in college I didn't lift, just did cardio and thinned out nicely. I own a staffing company which puts me behind the desk a lot and live in Minnesota, cold and sedentary.
I recently purchased an elliptical, treadmill and a very nice Hoist multi function home gym. Bottom line I want to burn fat, and cut, not build mass, I think my upper body muscles tend to want to go back to my powerlifting days, can this happen?
I just want to be thin and cut, not bulky. I want to create more lean muscle to boost my metabolic rate as I age. I started a month ago doing high reps 10-15 with reasonable weights 120lbs for chest, 60 for tri etc. Is this the wrong path?
Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated , I'd even be willing to pay for periodic counsel….
[ A ] Hi Philip,
Thanks for the compliment and e-mail. First, I want to tell you that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of articles on dieting, cutting, weight loss, etc. on the bodybuilding.com website. Here's a link to the fat loss articles. Here are some pre-contest articles…I know you're not getting ready for a contest, but you said you want to get lean.
Defining muscle as well as more pre-contest articles.
You partly answered your own question. If you want to get lean, even if you don't want to gain any muscle, and you only want to lose fat, you NEED to lift weights too.
All of the reasons for this exceed the scope of this answer, but just trust me when I tell you that it's in your best interest. If you don't lift weights, you might lose weight, but you won't look any better; you'll look like a smaller version of yourself. Also, you NEED to train your legs. Your legs are the largest muscles in your body.
They have the most opportunity to help you speed up your metabolism, gain muscle and lose fat. The best exercises for that are squats, leg presses, lunges and stiff-leg deadlifts. If you can't do any of those for some reason, let me know and we'll figure something else out. For all of your weightlifting, try to stick to multi-joint, compound exercises, and avoid isolation exercises.
I would recommend working out three times per week, following a push-pull system like the one I mentioned in question 5. Try to do your weightlifting in the morning after waking up, and on the days you don't lift weights, then you want to do your cardio.
If you're really motivated, perform cardio every morning on an empty stomach and lift weights in the evening. Please read my article on cardio for all my recommendations, and to see why I recommend cardio in the morning on an empty stomach.
Your reps are too high. Use reps in the 6-8, or even 4-6 rep range, but make sure to accentuate the negative. In other words, lower the weight slow and controlled. If you're really sore the next day, you know you did it right. Contrary to popular belief, high reps don't lean, cut, tone or whatever. High reps build endurance, and do very little for fat loss and muscle gain.
Don't worry about getting bulky. Your diet determines whether you gain or lose weight. Again, contrary to popular belief, you should lift the same whether you want to gain muscle, lose fat, tone, cut, or anything in between.
Finally, and most importantly, the majority of your success comes from your diet. Please read my third article, which should be posted now, or in the next few days, on nutrition. If you have any more questions, please let me know.