|As you may know, I compete in different strength events (i.e. powerlifting, strongman) so body aesthetics aren't as important to me as they are to a bodybuilder. Why? Because whether I win or lose isn't decided strictly on my looks. However that doesn't mean that I don't care what percent body fat I am or how I feel due to conditioning. The fatest, strongest guy usually isn't the winner in strength athletics these days. In the past, when the events required strength (force production) tested by events including a deadlift, squat, or other single heavy movement larger and heavier guys often prevailed. In today's strength athletic competitions (i.e. World Strongest Man Competition) the athletes are required to lift heavy objects, move quickly, have high power output (great strength in a certain time) as well as still lifting large objects (cars) and holding them for time. Again, strength is not forgotten, but quickness, power, agility, and overall athleticism must be strengths of the champion. Where am I going with this? To succeed at these events, the athlete must maximize their strength at a low a body fat so they have the strength to lift a stone weighing close to 300lbs and be able to move with it over a certain distance.
Here I am pulling a huge Budweiser truck at the Grand Opening of one of Bodybuilding.com's retail stores.
In the last competition I did, the first event was the Farmer's Carry. In that event, each athlete was required to lift weighted cylinders (272lbs in each hand) then walk/run 80 feet, turn around a marker then go back to the start line. This 160ft. course should be maneuvered in as little time as possible. There were some monsters competing against me. Some guys had chests measuring bigger than Tylene Buck ;) and could deadlift close to 800lbs! However, I was the only one not to set the cylinders down and one of two to finish the course. The moral of the story is this: The ability to lift them up made the athlete strong, the ability to negotiate the course with confidence and speed made me and one other guy the best strength athletes.
Eating to maximize strength while keeping body fat low isn't a secret. People have been doing it since before Joe Weider or Bill Phillips were even thought of. So you can do it to by keeping it simple and putting some thought behind it.
Rule One: Set a Goal- What body fat percentage would allow you to stay strong but still allow you to move. This will be between 10% and 18% for most. Below 10% will probably cut back the strength of a natural competitor and above 18% will probably add too much fat mass to allow the athlete to move easily and without much fatigue.
Rule Two: Current Body Comp- Go to your local gym and have a one of those certified trainers check your body fat. This will let you know where you're body fat and lean mass are at. This will give you a base line to work with towards Rule One.
Rule Three: Caloric Intake/Output- The book "Power Eating" has great information about how to figure out your daily caloric intake. You could also find that same trainer to help you out with this.
Rule Four: Supplements- Identify the supplements that would help you achieve your goals, have the best value, and are good quality. The best place to get your supplements are where you're already at: www.bodybuilding.com Below I've listed some the best supplements I've found for achieving what I spoke of above-lean mass gain and low body fat.
Click the blue links for more information.
2. Glutamine - Amino Acid essential for recovery. This is like overtraining insurance-almost guaranteeing that you'll never overtrain. Again I do pure powder (Prolab or AST) to mix with juices or shakes after the workout and before bed.
3. Protein - Without supplemental protein, I'd never get close to meeting my daily protein needs (290-300 gms/day). I usually do 50 gms of whey as part of my breakfast and 50 gms before bed. I really like Isopure Low Carb whey in the 3lb jug. I mix the vanilla with Orange Juice and Strawberry with water, milk, or pancake mix.
4. Meal Replacements (MRP) - I do anywhere from 1 to 3 a day of these. I really like Met-Rx, the original. It's light, easy to mix w/water, and tastes good but not too sweet. I always do one of these after the workout w/creatine, glutamine, and sometimes CLA or a banana. The protein bars can also be put in here instead of the shake packet. Just watch that the Macronutrients (Protein, Carb, Fat) are still in your meal guidelines.
5. Tribulus - Basically an herb that increases your natural Testosterone output by increasing your natural production of Luteinizing Hormone. This is important for those who want to maximize hormones and growth but aren't ready for prohormones or the drug scene. I take Tribex by Biotest and have found it superior to most other Tribulus products.
6. Thermogenics - Basically these are energy pills. Depending on what's in them will vary on brand and price, but these can be dangerous so watch out and educate yourself. I generally don't use these the way the directions suggest since my goals aren't to shrink down for a show. I use them prior to a workout to increase the intensity. I also take them prior to competition for increased performance. I really like Betalean by EAS because you don't have to take that many, it doesn't upset my stomach, you don't crash after taking them, and they're really good in terms of quality.
7. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) - I mentioned this earlier. There was a lot of hype about this supplement a few years back but nothing ever caught on with it. I've looked at some of the research and the ideas behind it make sense to me. I take it (700-1000mg caps) with my shakes so that I do get some fat throughout the day. I like the TwinLab CLA Fuel due to it's price and you only have to take 3-4 a day.
8. Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) - This is another research proven product that hasn't been out for too long. A mixture of minerals and vitamins that ensure that you're using the hormones you make to help you recover while you sleep. The original, Zmass by Cytodine is really good but a little higher priced than some of the others. It's good stuff though.
9. AntiOxidants - These are again things that help you not to overtrain and get sick. The most popular ones are Vitamins C and E. Taking these with your regular meals (real food not MRP) can help you with absorption and recovery of the muscles. Just try to use a capsule instead of a tablet and dosages vary so start small and increase little by little.
10. HMB - This is an amino acid by-product that helps your body burn fat instead of muscle for energy. This is great for those with low body fat or for those trying to lose body fat. It aids in keeping your muscle during long, strenous workouts. While it is expensive, if you have the money go for it, it can work well. Betagen by EAS is a great way to get HMB mixed with Creatine. A great 2 in 1 punch!
Good Luck and keep training for your goals.
Ideal Eating For The Ideal Body!
As you may know, I compete in different strength events (i.e. powerlifting, strongman) so body aesthetics aren't as important to me as they are to a bodybuilder.