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Kelly Ryan's Corner - December 2003!

Kelly Ryan's personal area to answer your questions about getting into fitness.

December, 2003 Issue

Happy Holidays to everyone and I hope that Santa visits the homes of all of you good girls and boys who have been training hard and eating as healthy as possible. LOL. The Holidays are tough because there are all of these great parties to go to where there is a full buffet of every tasty type of food imaginable... believe me I am right there with ya. I will actually be dieting for the Fitness International (Arnold Classic) during the Holidays so I understand what it feels like to crave all these foods when at these functions. So how do you stay in shape or at least not gain 20 lbs? Strategy! Pick and choose the functions to go to if possible and always eat before you go. If you go hungry, you'll surely get yourself into trouble. Also, pick a party partner to help you avoid going into a feeding frenzy. Play it safe and you'll be happy you did around the first of the year.

Now for those amazing questions I was e-mailed:

This Month's Questions

Q. I started a workout routine a month ago and already I see a huge difference. I took your advice and purchased the Pinnacle Juiced Protein, it's great! My question to you is when do I take the protein, before or after my workouts? When will it give me the best toning results?

A. Awesome news Cathy and I am so happy you love the protein. As far as taste and highest quality goes, Pinnacle does the best job. I am not a big eater and drink a lot of my protein so it has to be the best quality and taste amazing. I love the chocolate myself. The best time to take protein is with every meal you take in during each day. Try eating every three hours and put either 20-30 grams of protein (powder) or 4 oz of meat or 4-5 egg whites with each meal. The fact is that it is absolutely necessary to have it with every meal in order to achieve the look you desire. Protein will help you build lean muscle tissue which will in turn, speed up your metabolism. Keep your complex carbohydrates (20-30 grams) to early morning and afternoon meals, and replace the complex carbs with veggies at night time. Following this type of program will surely get you the results you want. This is the meal plan I follow myself, and being a recovered Bulimic, I have completely changed my metabolism with this method.

Q. I am looking to compete in my first amateur bodybuilding contest sometime in the future. What advice do you have? What is the most important thing to focus on? I am 6'1" and weigh about 175 lbs.

A. It is great to think you might be entering the wonderful world of bodybuilding. Once you hit the stage Glenn, it's all over and just like any addiction, you'll be hooked. Competing is amazing because it teaches you so much about yourself. There are a couple of things in which you should base your focus on but the best piece of advice I can give you is that when the day of the competition comes, you should have no should have's, would have's, or could have's. What I mean by this is that you should know in your heart that you did everything humanly possible to be ready for your show. Nothing should come to mind that you wish you would have done. Especially once you hit the stage.

Confidence is everything and the way you present your physique has everything to do with confidence. The most important thing to focus on is your nutrition. Your contest diet will determine the level of conditioning your body will have on stage. If you know nothing about a contest diet, then hire someone you trust to have the experience and knowledge you need to be ready. Training, cardio, tanning and posing are the other pieces to the bodybuilding puzzle you need to figure out. Lastly, at 6'1" and 175lbs, I can tell you this, the more muscle you have, the better, so keep training hard and go for it Glenn!

Check out bodybuilding contest preparation articles!

Q. I've read several of your articles where you recommend doing cardio before breakfast. I have also read where you cardio twice a day for 45 minutes to one hour. If I follow that regimen, should I be worried about losing muscle? I've been told that when I am training for a competition I should definitely do cardio, but not too much in order for my muscle to not be eaten away. What is your take on this? Thanks so much Kelly!

A. Thank you for keeping up with my articles and both ideas that you read were true about me. Yes, I do believe in cardio before breakfast because you are totally burning body fat at that time, by having nothing in your stomach to pull from for energy. And yes, I also do cardio twice a day (pre-contest) for 45 minutes to an hour because at that point your body has warmed up and started to burn body fat. Anything less than 40 minutes is good cardio but not as effective as doing almost an hour. You should always gage your amount of cardio by the type of condition you are already in at the very beginning of your contest prep, not what you looked like on stage.

As far as losing muscle from too much cardio, yes that can happen, but only if you're are not eating enough, and are overtraining in the gym. A great way to prevent you from burning muscle or going catabolic is to use supplements like BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and Glutamine. Taking a serving of both of these supplements before and after your cardio as well as before and after your training (more so just the glutamine for the training) will help you protect the muscle you work so hard to build. So do not be afraid of cardio, just learn how to make it work to your advantage. Great question... and keep me posted on your results!

Q. I'm 5'3", muscular, but need to lose about 30 lbs. and mostly on my lower body. I have a very difficult time losing weight even though I have cut flour out of my diet.

A. I must first start by saying that cutting flour out of your diet will not change your body much. In order to change you must follow a good meal plan, made up of servings of protein, complex carbs, veggies, and fats. Eating every three hours will improve your metabolism and get your body into a rhythm. At first you may not be hungry after three hours but give it a couple of weeks and soon you will find yourself hungry just two hours after your last meal. This is a sure sign of your metabolism speeding up and a great way to lose weight.

If you carry most of your body fat in your lower body, keep training your legs. Train intensely and quickly. Use medium to heavy weight but super high reps to keep a nice workload on the muscles. This will cause your heart rate to increase and burn calories all at the same time. I would develop giant sets by which you pick three different leg exercises and go from one to the other and count all three as one set total. I would also break up your leg days into quads and glutes for one day and hamstrings and calves for another day. This will allow you to focus on your lower body on two days since this is where you want to change the most.

I call this "priority training". When you have a particular area that needs more work than others, make training that body part or muscle group a priority in your training.

Lastly use cardio to help you shed unwanted pounds. Just like I said in the answer to question # 3 above, do your cardio before eating any breakfast for at least 45 minutes. Work your way up to an hour after the first week or so. This is a fantastic way to keep the legs nice and toned and burn fat and calories like crazy. In conclusion, I would change your meal plan, priority train your legs, and do a.m. cardio sessions. You should see some fantastic results in no time!

Q. I think you are one of the well-educated people within the fitness industry. I was wondering if you could give me your professional opinion on 2 quick questions I have for you.

1. What are your thoughts on jumping rope? The cardiovascular benefits and how it effects your muscular development?

2. Do you incorporate interval training into your fitness routine and if so what do you like about it? Do you think it helps your overall fitness and muscular development/definition?

A. Thank you so much for saying that, but I still have a lot to learn. Every year that I compete, I feel as though I become more in tune with my mind, soul, and body. All I want to do is save you guys from making the same mistakes I did when I started. You'll save time and get better results for all of your hard work!

Now to answer your first question, I have used jumping rope before as a form of cardio prior to a contest. I loved it! The only thing I will caution you about is shin splints. Always wear new shoes and find a surface that has a bit of give to it, such as an aerobic floor at your gym. Presenting something new to your body will always have its drawbacks in the beginning. You have to give your body time to adjust to a new program and then you will start to really enjoy it. I used jumping rope to make my legs stronger for my fitness routine, as well as build up my anaerobic threshold. Jumping rope is very aerobic and anaerobic at the same time. Jumping rope is not easy to do for long periods of time so your heart rate will increase right away.

I would put a CD into the stereo in the aerobic room and jump for the time limit of each song. Then to spice things up I would jump at a regular pace for the count of 100 jumps, and then I would double time my jumping pace for another 100 jumps, etc. When you jump at the same pace for a time period it is more of an aerobic activity. Jumping as fast as I could for as long as I could was more of an anaerobic activity, and that was what I needed for my two minute fitness routine. The effects of jumping rope on one's muscular development is as long as you make sure you are protecting your muscle with supplementation (refer to answer # 3) I feel a change in one's typical workout patterns are beneficial.

I felt that jumping rope also helped with the definition in my legs and built up my calves a little bit. I jumped rope for 30-45 minutes 3 times a week. Try jumping rope once a week to get used to it, and see how you feel. I think you're going to love it for a nice change of pace.

The answer to your second question is yes, I do incorporate interval training into my fitness routine. When I am having trouble getting through my two minute routine, I incorporate interval training into my cardio sessions, for example jump roping. Another great example of interval training is walk/running on the treadmill. This method works great for me as a fitness competitor because it allows me to build up my stamina and sustain peak energy levels throughout the entire two minute routine. Interval training doesn't effect your muscular development as much as regular weight training, but it will increase endurance and help shed unwanted pounds. If you are not one for the manual button on the cardio machine of choice, then interval training serves its purpose as a motivational factor as well. Boredom is not a good reason for missing out on your cardio sessions. I hope this answer helps you make your choice about interval training and good luck with your program!

Thanks everyone for another month of great questions. I hope you all have a very safe and great Holiday! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!

See everyone next month! Keep those great questions coming to and keep training hard!