To gain muscle and achieve ones ideal body shape, it is important to ensure all relevant factors are in place. Learning all the processes involved in bodybuilding success would take many years and much trial and error should one choose to go it alone.
Fortunately, informational sources like Bodybuilding.com and reputable personal trainers are available to take the guesswork out of achieving physical greatness.
Anthony Catanzaro is a man who, to a large extent, makes his living through the physique he has developed. He credits bodybuilding for giving him the tools to do this. Educating others on all aspects of physical fitness, well-being and muscle building is something Anthony does as a personal trainer and, today, he will share the secrets of his success.
As a natural bodybuilder, Anthony has uncovered many strategies that have helped him build the size needed to win several big contests. Sit back and enjoy this mini-seminar with Anthony as he discusses diet, training for the off-season and pre-contest, and motivation.
[ Q ] Every bodybuilder wants to add size before cutting up for the contest. What is the key to adding muscle in the off season?
One word FOOD! It's basic mathematics. If you want to grow you have to eat more than you burn off - it's just that simple. Staying true to what I said earlier about eating smaller meals but more frequently, you might get great results eating six meals a day or more.
Make your breakfast and your post workout meal the highest in carbohydrates. Keep your protein the same with all meals. I develop customized eating plans that have proven to be very successful all over the world I can create a customized diet for your goals and needs to achieve the body you desire!
[ Q ] What is the number one exercise you recommend for building mass, and why?
I have to say Squats! Deadlifts are great, but they put a tremendous amount of stress on your back. Squats are a great way for your body to grow. Your lower body cannot be neglected. It's like a house with a weak foundation and you cannot build on something that is weak.
[ Q ] What is the best rep range for mass gaining, and why?
Too many people today have a theory about how many reps they need to do. Forget about the reps; focus on failure where you can't do anymore. Those last few reps are what will make the muscle grow! So no matter what your reps are, you will only grow from the forced reps.
[ Q ] What are the best methods for bringing up weak muscle groups, to achieve a total package?
I used to train my weak points every other day with a limited amount of reps. For example, if you have weak biceps train them every other day. Pick your favorite bicep exercise and do five sets to failure - that's it! I don't care about the rep range, but continue to lift heavier and heavier each week, and this works trust me.
[ Q ] Pre-contest - What are the most productive ways to enhance the fat burning process?
There are so many fat burners out there today, and as you know, I'm totally against all that. So I'm going to let you in on my own fat burning secrets.
You see the body's metabolism is like a fireplace: the more wood you put in (a little at a time), the hotter and stronger the fire gets. Now if you were to put too much wood at one time into the fire it would actually suffocate the fire and cause it to lose its oxygen, and without this a fire cannot burn.
The same goes for your body. If you eat small meals throughout the day and frequently, your body's metabolism will begin to burn hotter, therefore burning up mostly anything you eat. The old saying still rings true about the fact that people who eat a lot all day long with smaller meals will be thinner than a person who just eats once or twice a day with large meals.
The Bottom Line Is: let your body naturally be the most productive way to burn fat.
[ Q ] What is the secret for getting into peak condition in the last week of the contest?
This is a very important question. The final week of a contest is by far the most crucial point of your pre-contest dieting.
Here's my secret. Most competitors mess up their show by dieting too hard the final week up to the show, which leaves their muscles completely flat while still holding on too some unwanted body fat. This alone will destroy the competitor's confidence and physical appearance.
What I do is this: I give myself nine weeks of pre-contest dieting dropping my carb intake each week, while increasing the protein to maintain the same amount of calories. The amount of fat I consume will always be the same throughout the diet. Now one week before the show I would have lost all the fat I wanted to.
This way I could relax and start carbing up the week prior to the show. I have heard of guys trying to carb up the night before or actually right in the pump-up room. I remember one guy eating a hamburger right before he went on. That was funny because he thought his body would change like in 15 min... well he lost.
Don't let this happen to you. Most bodybuilders look better three days after a show. This is because they come off their low-carb, low-salt diet.
[ Q ] What are the best ways to improve muscle symmetry and proportion?
This is a tough question because most of this would rely on genetics. But like I always say you should look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Look at yourself like you would a piece of clay. Symmetry and proportion are the most important aspects of your physique.
You should write down on a piece of paper where you need some size and where you need to lose some fat. Then get to work.
[ Q ] Staying in shape is important so underlying muscles can be revealed. What is the most effective aerobic exercise strategy to achieve fat loss, but not muscle wasting?
To tell you the truth, I love dancing. I think dancing is one of the best ways to get your cardio in and it's much better than walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes. If not dancing, try some low impact classes at the gym. The energy is good and this is a good way to move to music which I feel is the best for your soul.
[ Q ] What kind of dancing would you suggest for cardio? How would you maintain 30 minutes?
Well like I said, I love dancing but one cannot do it every day unless that person was a dancer. If you can do it on the weekends great. If not, do a 30-40 minute low impact aerobic class four-times-a-week.
[ Q ] You have great abs. What is the number one strategy for building muscle in this area in your opinion?
Hit all areas of the abs. Don't just do three or four sets of roman chair sit-ups. You have to hit lower abs, intercostals and obliques.
Look for my ab workout here on Bodybuilding.com.
[ Q ] What should a beginning bodybuilder do to lay the correct foundation?
I'm not a believer in putting on tons of size, then cutting it up. I know this would be the first answer a bodybuilder would give, but my approach to beginners is to have patience and learn that, like wine, they are getting better each year.
If you tell them to eat big and put on size, it's only going to send their body into a state of gaining mostly fat. It's much better to create gains each year. Unfortunately, everyone is in a rush and wants to have the body they dream of overnight. It doesn't work like that. It's like saying, "If I need 3000 calories a day to gain size I'll just eat all of that in one meal." Get the point?
[ Q ] How would an advanced bodybuilder overcome stagnation?
Change it up. I have a friend of mine at the gym who is so regimented that it's mind blowing. He would always train a certain way and GOD forbid he does a drop set. If I train with him, I'll say lets do a drop set, he would say "no, that's overtraining."
Mind you, he trains hard and he is 50 years old, but his body is used to his training methods regardless of adding more weight to the bar. But sometimes that is just not enough. In order for the body to change, your routines have to change and that means drop sets, supersets, giant sets, and anything else that involves complete failure.
Remember, failure in your workouts is your best friend. "The mind fails before the body," so push out those reps until you have nothing left.
[ Q ] What are the best motivational strategies for getting into top shape?
Hang a photo of someone you think has the body you want on your refrigerator or somewhere where you can see this many times a day. The image will stay in your mind and create what I like to call a visual image of what you want to create.... seeing is believing.
[ Q ] What are the best methods for improving workout concentration?
Don't talk to people while you are working out. Too many people at the gym do one set of an exercise and five sets of talking. This wastes time and will hinder your progress.
I'm not saying be a cold person. Believe me, it takes me twenty minutes to get started when I get to the gym because of all the questions I answer and people that want to come up and say hi. Try to keep your focus on your workouts.
[ Q ] Just how important is the mind when it comes to building a great physique? Any examples?
It's everything. The mind is the only thing that creates things. Nothing can be created unless your mind can visually see it happening. That is why most people fail in their workouts or diets.
They don't give themselves enough time to see results. They want results by tomorrow, and that's just not how this whole thing works. Everything beautiful takes time to develop. Just like a building development. It takes years of planning and architectural development to design a building, but seconds to knock down the existing one.
Its like when you were a kid building a sand castle and someone comes along and steps on it. Take your time, and learn about your body. Your mind is the only thing that will make you or break you.
[ Q ] How important is relaxation for building muscle? How do you relax?
I wish I could relax more, but having bills and always having something to do around the house could get to a person. I find the best way to relax is by doing the things you love. Relaxation of the mind is more important than relaxation of the body.
When the body cannot go any further, it sends a signal to the brain to shut down. When the brain is overstressed, the body suffers. Remember,
Sometimes the boss needs a vacation.
[ Q ] What is the most beneficial supplement a bodybuilder can take, and why?
I am a believer in Glutamine. I have been using it for years and I have proof that the body can use this particular supplement and it is completely harmless to the stomach. As a matter of fact, the gut loves glutamine. It's a great supplement for stress, and to help keep your immune system working at 100% percent 24 hours a day!
[ Q ] To build size, what foods should a bodybuilder always include in their diet, and why?
Protein is the number one nutrient to gain muscle and to keep the muscle you have, so keep eating that protein. Get it from lean animal sources like:
Carbohydrates are what keep you pumped, so eat them along with your protein. Eat unprocessed carbs like:
- Brown rice
Also, don't forget fat. Eat good fats like:
- Flax oils
- Olive oils
- Natural unprocessed fats like:
Unsalted raw nuts
[ Q ] What is the number one mistake a bodybuilder might make in terms of their diet, when looking to gain size?
They will eat anything to gain what they want to call muscle, but most of what they are gaining is fat. Keep your diet clean all year long. Muscle is not gained with ice-cream, pizza and pasta.
[ Q ] How would one best go about putting together a good diet plan for size?
What I do is this: I write down exactly how many calories I need in order to gain muscle. I do this by taking my bodyweight and multiplying that by 15 . Right now, I weigh exactly 190 lbs, which I think is perfect for me.
I'm only 5'10" so this weight gives me a nice combination of size and cuts. So a weight of 190 x 15 would give me a total calorie intake of 2,850, which is what I need to maintain my lean body mass, not weight.
I could eat 1500 calories a day and stay the same weight as well, but I would have to eat garbage with tons of sodium and sugar to hold on to water, which is what the majority of people do. I just add 500 calories to my maintaining weight requirements, making my intake 3,350 calories a day to gain size.
You are what you eat! If you eat lean chicken you will become lean like the chicken, if you eat bacon you will become fat like the bacon. Whatever you put in, you get out!
Eating the correct amount of calories each day, every day, will help you put on the size you need. Here is my layout for a 180lb male who wants to gain size:
180 lbs = 2,700 calories a day to maintain weight add 500 cal's to that = 3200. To gain size, here is the amount of protein, carbs and fat for that 180 lb person to eat in order to gain lean muscle mass:
275 grams of protein, 350 grams of carbohydrates and 75 grams of fat per day = 3,175 calories a day. There ya go!
[ Q ] What is the most important nutrition tip you can give?
Balance. Everything is balance. You can't make gains on a whole dish of pasta. You need a balance of macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Balance out your diet and you will have balance in your life.