Introduction | Nutrition | Tips From The Top
The program and related information in the preceding section will transform your body like never before for the simple reason that it has stood the test of time and, in my experience, has worked for a great many people. In compiling my research for this feature I also figured that such a detailed framework would not be complete without the input of a larger number of respected professionals from within the bodybuilding and fitness industry offering their additional pearls of wisdom to compliment the programs and information I have put forth.
There surely is strength in numbers. With that thought in mind I personally contacted many of these professionals to get their best tips on how to get into top shape in the shortest possible time frame. Their answers, all insightful and based on a combined hundreds of years of experience at the highest levels within bodybuilding and fitness, follow.
Please note that although the following tips are varied and often differ from one another, they have all worked for many people and are equally valid. While some of these tips explain how to achieve rapid, extreme definition specifically for the purposes of bodybuilding competition, others, much like the main program outlined in this guide, allow for gradual body fat reduction and muscle gain simultaneously. Therefore the following tips can be used by all people but for different purposes and at different times. It may not be realistic to use them all at the same time.
It is advised that you follow the main training program and diet suggested in this guide while using the following tips to compliment, not oppose, this program. Tips that are not compatible to the main program can be experimented with after the 12-week period. The key thing to remember here is that, although all the tips featured here will work very well, certain things will not work best for all people; some things will give greater results depending on one's genetics and predisposition to certain approaches. Again, try all of these approaches to find which works best for your unique body type and training and nutrition needs.
"When training I push myself to 100% and focus intensely during each workout, the intensity will be increased and the duration of the workout might decrease. It's through 100% tunnel vision inside and outside the gym that makes the difference for me!
It's exactly the same for nutrition: I eat more quality food, more frequently, but perhaps less calories since the fat intake is dropped considerably. That alone will speed up my quality condition. There is nothing specific that I change, it's a total approach called Tunnel Vision! I approach bodybuilding from all angles; and it's exactly what I'm doing today!"
IFBB Professional bodybuilding legend
Mr. Olympia 1983
"My favorite tip is that trying to get in shape fast is a bad idea. That's essentially what I say in the chapter on motivation and change in my new book GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Health Fitness Leanness Without Suffering: "Change is hard. The only program, diet or exercise, that will work is one you are willing and able to stick with until it is time to change again. Rushing the process leads to discouragement and failure. It's why most fitness plans are abandoned in weeks or, at most, months.
If you are out of shape, start slowly and increase the vigor and duration of your regimen as your fitness improves. If you're already in pretty good shape, take your time; clean up your diet and be more consistent with your training and you'll be amazed at the progress you can make without suffering - and you'll be able to stay in top shape.
Yes, maintaining a positive mental attitude is very important. That's why taking it easy and not biting off more than you are willing and able to chew is key. Starting slowly ensures that your initial experience is positive. Increasing gradually as your fitness improves allows you to build on your initial success and go from success to success. Success breeds success.
As I say in the new book, "Start slowly, at a pace you know you can maintain. Experience success early on and then build on your success." Approached in this manner, a 12-week training and nutrition plan can set the stage for a lifetime of leanness and fitness."
Author of the Ripped book series and past-40 USA bodybuilding champion
"Everyone is born with abs. But only proper training and nutrition can get you that flat stomach you are dying for. Here are some training tips that have helped me get my waist down to 28 inches.
I like to say 70% is nutrition and the rest is training (a split between training with weights and cardio). As for nutrition, try eating five to six balanced meals per day and use this ratio: 60% carbs, 30% protein and 10% fat. Yes keep that fat low! It's simple if you look at this way: every time you eat a gram of fat that is a gram of fat that must be burned. If you eat none, or barely any, then all you are doing is forcing your body to use its own fat as fuel.
Now comes the training. I normally only train my abs once or twice per week at the most. Why? Because as long as your diet is right you don't really need to train them any more than you would any other body part - period! Abdominals are just like any other body part. My training for abs is as follows:
Mondays and Thursdays:
Three sets of crunches and three sets of leg lifts, DONE! Don't let anyone else fool you to believe that the more abs you do the more definition you get! That's the 1980's way of thinking. Hope this helps, till next time stay tuned."
Supplement company owner
"Getting in shape Fast (the three-week challenge):
If you decide to get in shape fast:
Here are my personal and favourite tips for getting in shape in three weeks.
- I reduce my caloric intake to minimum.
- Usually I have four to five meals a day. I am in decent shape all year around but keep in mind that when I start this three-week challenge I am not in good shape.
- From four to five meals I go straight to three meals and one protein shake.
- Meal 1: Five to six egg whites and two weetabix or one portion (handful) of oats (cooked)
- Meal 2: 1 big chicken breast with salad and one small potato
- Afternoon snack: two scoops Whey Quattro with non-fat milk
- Meal 3: Here I have one medium slice lean beef, one portion basmati rice (handful) and one portion of broccoli.
Obviously I do not stay on this specific diet; these quantities get reduced slightly when I reach a sticking point.
- I will have one weetabix instead two.
- A small instead of a big chicken breast.
- I will switch the lean-beef to six eggs white.
- Reduce to a half portion the basmati rice.
But I also add one specific meal if needed while I am very low in calories. Then back to my challenge again. Concerning training frequency, I train two to three times a day and I totally avoid cardio training, preferring training frequency strategy which allows me to burn many more calories and fat in each individual muscle. Each training session is brief and intense 20 to 30 minutes maximum! I use super-sets or tri-sets or even giant-sets, it all depends on my shape at the present time. Because of my low-calorie diet I will carefully monitor the weight I use. I prefer to work with good form, along the line of pull, in a controlled manner. Before and during training I drink a lot of water (1.5 liters) for each training session. Dieting for me has a diuretic effect which makes me dehydrated. Dehydrate a muscle by only three percent and you cause about a 10% loss of contractile strength.
For more info on the three-week challenge, check out my website."
IFBB Professional bodybuilding legend
"How many times have we heard the question: "How can I get in shape fast?" Any seasoned athlete knows that there is no substitute for consistent, hard work performed over a period of time that allows us to get into shape. However, there are many ways that I am aware of, and only veterans of the physical fitness world would know after many years of extensive training in the weight room, cardio room and nutritional arena, which ones would assist in answering this question. We all have our secrets. I certainly have many and I am about to share one of them with you, the reader. But first and foremost I cannot emphasize it enough: before beginning any or all exercise programs, and/or nutrition programs, please consult with your physician.
Having had a very successful competitive bodybuilding career for almost a decade and a half I learned things about the human body, both physically and mentally, that would amaze even the most educated of physiologists and nutritionists from around the world. I have had my fat percentage measured in a hydrostatic tank at 3.7 percent (which by the way in my opinion is the most accurate way of measuring body fat percentage) prior to competition. In fact prior to my victory at the Tournament of Champions when this test was performed, the individual who conducted the test said to me: "you have the lowest percentage I have ever seen; your test is free."
Here is how I did it.
My favorite tip for getting in shape fast is to do cardio first thing in the morning prior to consuming any food. That is right, before eating! Here is my reasoning: when you wake up from a good night of rest and sleep you most likely have not eaten for up to eight hours. By exercising first thing in the morning before breakfast you are forcing the body to utilize its stored glycogen (the simplest form of carbohydrate) from within the muscle cells in addition to burning body fat for energy. By doing so you are depleting your glycogen reserves, burning unwanted body fat and increasing your metabolism with cardiovascular exercise. I would usually perform between 60 to 90 minutes of cardio exercise on an elliptical machine on a different level of resistance each time, then follow this workout by eating a good, healthy breakfast of both complex and simple carbohydrates in addition to a multi vitamin and mineral supplement to replenish my muscles. This tip of mine for getting in shape fast has assisted me with getting in incredible competition shape year after year, from one victory to the next! Fortitude creates champions!"
JR USA light heavyweight champion
California State light heavyweight champion
Tournament of Champions overall winner
San Francisco heavyweight and overall winner
Mauro Di Pasquale
Getting In Shape Fast In Less Than An Hour A Day
One of the fastest ways that I've found to get in shape is to train every day for five days of the week no more than an hour a day, using a combination of weights and cardio. The program goes like this.
- Five to 10 minutes of cardio prior to using the weights. Can be done on the treadmill, bike or stepper.
- Then do the weights. The weight training part shouldn't take any longer than 25 minutes.
- At the end of the lifting do another 15 minutes or so of cardio.
Shock Program For Maximizing Muscle Mass, Body Composition & Performance
After three or four weeks on the above program you can progress to a shock program of two weeks or so to give you dramatic changes in body composition and performance.
This routine is based on training four days per week. Don't do any more than is listed here if you want to increase muscle mass and strength. Intense workouts lasting less than one hour are best.
All exercises should be done in strict form and all reps should be done slowly and precisely. The exercises used aren't written in stone so you can substitute appropriate ones for some of the ones listed below.
The drop sets are done by starting with a weight that you can just do for five reps and not six. Then some weight is taken off and another five reps are done, and still more weight is taken off and a final five reps are done.
Taking for example the bench press. Start with say 225 lbs for five reps - then without pausing 185 for five reps then 135 for 5 reps. The last rep in each set should be to failure - you shouldn't be able to do another full rep with that weight. Add weight when you can manage a sixth rep on any part of the drop set. You only pause in the drop sets long enough for the weight to be taken off the bar. There shouldn't be too much of a time difference between doing an exercise for 15 reps and doing a drop set.
Mauro Di Pasquale
World-renowned Nutrition and sports medicine expert
"My favorite tip for getting in shape fast is to train like a football star. When you look at the bodies of football skill players you realize they have a lot of power, low body fat and muscle popping out everywhere! Football players' Workouts are high intensity all throughout. From the cardiovascular work, to the strength training workouts, one thing remains and that's to crank the intensity higher and higher each day. One of my favorite get fit quick routines that mirrors this type of training is performing gassers with plyometric push-ups and squat jumps in between.
Here's how the workout would go: Go on a football field and line up on the sidelines (Across a football field is typically 52 yards). Now you will sprint from one end of the sidelines to the other end and back (A total of 104 yards). You will then perform five to eight reps of plyometric push-ups and 10 squat jumps. Then you would rest for three minutes before repeating again for a total of four to five reps - this is as intense as you can get and it will burn tons of calories and you can even become a better athlete in doing so as well."
Expert personal trainer
"I never approach a diet and try to get in shape fast. Slow and steady is my approach. Eliminating processed food, especially processed carbs, and ensuring at least 50% of carbs come from fibrous sources will help. Also eating several small meals per day and doing cardio first thing in the morning, while training later in the day should help."
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
"My plan when I was competing was to always be ready 10 days out from the show. I did not do anything differently than I had been doing for the last 10 to 12 weeks. I never stopped drinking water, none of the last minute things that they do today. I never did any aerobics. The only thing that I spent a lot of time on was posing. I always worked on my posing at least 1½ hours every day. I wanted to be able to hold a pose and make it look effortless for at least three minutes if necessary."
IFBB professional bodybuilding legend
"Throughout my career I have been asked a million times "Tony how did you get those ripped abs? No matter what I do, I just can't get my abs to come out!" Well I'm about to let you all in on my secret and you'll be surprised to know its not such a secret after all. It's a balanced diet that I call "Eating Clean to be Lean". Now what does eating clean to be lean mean you might ask? "Eating clean to be lean" means: eating foods in their natural form on a consistent basis. Lets say I was to tell you that I'll eat a steak dinner with a potato and a huge salad on the side and that's one of the things I would eat to help me get ripped abs. Would you believe me? Well, It's the truth and here's how I do it. The steak would be the leanest I could find like flank or top round. I also wouldn't have more than 6oz of it (a little steak sauce is fine) but you have to grill or broil the steak. No oils salt or butter.
Now I said a potato right? How about having a sweet potato instead of an Idaho potato. Yams and sweet potatoes are awesome and they are not as high in simple sugars and they are great for you. Just don't add butter. Now for the salad - did you know that salad and all types of vegetables are great diuretics? Don't use store bought dressings in a bottle, drizzle a little virgin olive oil, or flaxseed oil in there instead. Now you are 'eating clan to be lean'. I have been creating these eating clean to be lean diets for people all around the world with huge success."
International fitness model and natural bodybuilding champion
"When you strain or hurt one arm, but want to keep training, and you are using a barbell or free weights, put the heavier weight on the good arm, lighter on the bad arm. This will help you keep going and you will not lose so much time. The point is to get into shape you must often find ways of overcoming the odds.
When I hurt my knee recently I did much upper-body work, as my lower body was difficult to train. I built that up real well, then when the knee healed, did more work on the bottom half of my physique, less on the top. Always work around the injury, but never stop.
If you can't jog, walk, if you can't walk, do much more stretching. Stretching is extremely important, every day - stretch at least 20 minutes a day, and this will also prevent arthritis. All vigorous exercise knocks out arthritis, this I learned, as I was starting to get arthritis and knocked it all out with heavy training.
The other very good activity, which is very important, is this: Massage your entire body as often as possible. This does much good physically and psychologically. Physically it moves the blood to every part of your body, and it is very important for the nutrition to move to every cell and your blood has to carry it. It also maintains muscle tone. I massage my body from my face, scalp, down to my feet, taking at least a half hour to do this, with oil when I can. Psychologically this knocks out depression, as I have seen by experience. Touching is a healer and it does not have to be another person touching you, massaging your own body will give you healing. I do three kinds of touch, kneading-like gripping the flesh, pounding or hitting like karate chops on the muscles, and rubbing. The kneading and hitting make the blood move to the surface, the rubbing makes the blood move around on the surface. Remember that your blood carries healing nutrients and chemicals to the muscles of your body.
Also make sure you spend time outdoors every day no matter how cold it is. This is for fresh air and good breathing. Even when it is zero outside, I bundle up very well with thick boots, and take short walks, say five or ten minutes at a time, a few times a day. There is something invigorating and healing about the great outdoors and nature. When I was traveling in cities I always walked every day and especially sought out cemeteries, as they are quite and often have many trees.
When I travel I use the following gimmick. I noticed that at my gym the cleaners were using these huge bottles with a kind of 'dishwashing' type liquid in them that have handles. I asked the girl if I could have two bottles when she emptied them, and she complied. I took them home, filled them with water and weighed them. They were 12 pounds each. Next time I had to go out of town I took the empty bottles in my suitcase, and in my room, filled them with water and lifted weights, so I lost no training days. Twelve pounds sounds like very little, but you can do hundreds of reps. (I thought to myself some institution ought to create empty weights out of plastic which you fill with water, shaped just like real weights, which would be taken conveniently for travel.) I then do tons of push-ups and leg raises and I do not go slack.
One final tip: I was doing squats at home and bent forward while performing them - never do that. My back was out for over a month. I could not do my upper-body work standing and it really hurt my back. So I tried lifting free weights sitting down. It worked! No pain sitting down! Try everything and anything to keep going! I still do all the upper work sitting down because it is less stress on the back."
The progenitor of women's bodybuilding
Nasser El Sonbaty
"My diet approach, my approach for losing body fat, is very simple. You have to do three things at the same time: cardio and weight training along with reducing your daily calorie intake from the late afternoon/early evening on (as long as you don't have a night job).
The reason for reducing your calorie intake from the late after noon/early evening is because the body's metabolism slows down naturally during this period and you will gain fat easiest. You body's ability to burn fat is then reduced.
CARDIO: Depending how serious, dedicated and how strict you are, I do recommend doing cardio on an empty stomach three to four times a week in the early mornings.
Each cardio session should be between 30 to 40 minutes. Never less than 30 minutes. The first 15 minutes into the cardio you're basically warming up, the next 15 minutes you are losing water and from 30 minutes on you are definitely burning fat calories. Use two to three different machines each time while doing cardio. Use the treadmill, the stationary bike and the stair master (and there is also the rowing machine).
Editors note: when Nasser discusses not going below 30 minutes he is referring to moderate to high intensity cardio sessions, not HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which often requires only 20 to 30 minutes.
With cardio use a moderate level of resistance so that you are theoretically able to talk to the person next to you who is sitting on another machine as well. Drink plenty of water while you are doing cardio. Water does also help your liver to burn fat more efficiently.
WEIGHT TRAINING: train with weights during the daytime, a couple of hours after you completed your cardio session. If there is not a longer break for your body between morning cardio on empty stomach and the weight training session, which should last between 60 to 75 minutes, you will not have sufficient energy to do the lifting. Lift moderate weights and do not keep the breaks between sets too long. Train several body parts in one session and try to make it to the gym three to four times a week. Drink also enough water at the gym while you are building your body.
Have a meal before you start lifting weights: a smaller meal like, for example, oatmeal with a banana and a little protein shake. The oatmeal (complex carbs) gives you energy for about two hours and the banana (simple sugar) gives you energy right away, for the first 30 minutes and the protein will, of course, build your muscles. Without protein you will look flat and have very small muscles.
Also protein has to be taken in from the outside because cardio and working out with weights is taking protein away from your body, which you urgently do need.
-And if you like to bump your fat burning process up even more you can do additional cardio after your late afternoon/early evening workout for another 30 minutes on one to two different cardio machines, but by doing so you will experience more tiredness. Again, this second cardio session is just an option.
On one or two days per week take a complete break from the gym. You need a mental break and a break for your body. No cardio and no weight training. But continue eating healthy and clean.
Reducing your daily calorie intake: you basically have to avoid fats in sauces, dressings and in anything that is eatable really. Eat meat, turkey, chicken breast, tuna, red snapper, halibut, and stick to carb sources like oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, little red potatoes, rice, pasta (which also makes you hold water because of the gluten so be careful close to a contest), and have vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, squash and asparagus and also avoid sweets, sugars (but not "Splenda" if you need it), flour products and alcohol.
Eat if possible approximately every three hours and have protein during each meal as well. Protein can also be, besides the mentioned protein drinks and food, amino acids in the form of pills. Eating every couple of hours does not make you completely full but it feeds your body and speeds your metabolism up. And this is good because you will burn off even more calories During your diet you are not eating to satisfy your appetite but you are eating for shape. Avoid negative and jealous people. Be confident.
Stick to this program for a couple of months and be strict on yourself and you will see the positive transformation of your body which will make you more than happy. Believe in yourself, you can do it!"
Nasser El Sonbaty
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
Arnold Classic champion (1999)
Uncrowned Mr. Olympia (1997)
"There is no quick way to loose the fat! I tell all my clients the best way to get into the best shape is to stay close to their contest weight in the off-season. That way you will ensure that you are going to be in the best shape at every show you enter.
Also, any food that is as natural as possible is good. You will need to think about it this way: if it's not the way God made it and has many human hands touching it (during its processing), it is no longer good for you! Example: instead of French fry, deserts and burgers eat baked potatoes, fruit and fresh cooked, lean meat."
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
As bodybuilders we all do the same things, we eat five to seven meals a day, and we drink about a gallon of water a day, and we have a set spilt training system that we feel works best for our body types. And we take supplements for various different goals, but the one thing that separates a good physique from a championship physique is: Consistency
Consistency is the key; never guess, never underestimate, never question the game plan. Sometimes we question the path we are on, and change gears too fast before we see any results. I am also guilty of this and had to learn the hard way.
Before starting any contest diet, I go through a period of transition. I take five weeks to "talk myself into it"; starting my diet. When I am 15 weeks out I am ready to go full swing.
I have all my ducks lined up, all the supplements I will use over the next three and a half months, and all the food I need in my freezer, cabinets, and fridge. I leave no stone unturned, no excuse to cheat on my diet. You must stay on your diet every day, all week long, every month.
Consistency even applies to listening to your trainer/coach. You have to consistently listen to the help that is there for you, and if you are doing it alone, you have to be open to see when things are not working and then, and only then, make a change. You have to consistently pay attention to every detail.
Getting Ready For The '05 Nationals
When I got ready for the '05 Nationals, I had to re-qualify, and competed in the Gold's Classic here in NJ. I was eating your basic high protein low/mod carb diet without any added fats, and when I carb depleted from Sunday to Wednesday before the contest on Wednesday night I thought it was one of the best conditions I had ever been in. But after two days of carbing up exactly like I had done in the past, I looked flat and smooth on Saturday.
Dave Palumbo changed everything, and I followed his advice the following week leading into the East Coast, again here in NJ, and came in bone dry and won my class, and followed that up with a 5th place in the NPC Nationals.
Here is what I follow for 15 weeks when I compete:
- 8 ounces of grilled chicken breast
- 1/4 cup of cashews
- 2 cups of brussell sprouts
- 1 serving EAA Stack
- 1 serving of EAA Stack
- 1 serving of Storm
- 8 ounces of tilapia
- 1/4 cup of almonds
- 12 asparagus stalks
- 8 ounces of sushi grade salmon
- 2 cups of asparagus
- 8 ounces of grilled chicken breast
- Large green salad with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and red vinegar
- 3 scoops of whey
- 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter
And all the very best with your ongoing progress as you complete Dave's 12-week training course.
Universal Nutrition athlete for 11 years
"Every fitness program would benefit from the inclusion of Psoas Resets and Reverse Torso Curls, both done correctly. They would prevent 80% of low back problems and lead to quicker gains, overall."
To perform Psoas Resets (Hip hyperextensions): The purpose of performing this exercise is to lengthen and reciprocally inhibit the psoas muscle. This muscle proceeds downward across the brim of the lesser pelvis and diminishes gradually in size, passes beneath the inguinal ligament and in front of the capsule of the hip-joint and ends in a tendon (29).
- Lie prone on the floor with the hands under the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS: refers to the anterior extremity of the iliac crest of the pelvis, which provides attachment for the inguinal ligament and the sartorius muscle).
- Keep chin tucked in.
- Slowly raise one leg, keeping the knee locked and the ASIS pressed into the hand.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before returning slowly to the floor.
- Repeat for both legs.
To perform Reverse Torso Curls: The purpose of doing this exercise is to lengthen the lower abdominal muscles - a progression from the pelvic tilt.
- Lie supine on the floor.
- Rest hands at your sides.
- Draw knees to chest flexing knees and hips as far as possible.
- Using the lower abdominal muscles, slowly curl buttocks off the ground to the approximate level of T (thoracic vertebra) -12.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before returning slowly.
Dr. Robert M. Goldman
"Consistency of discipline is the key. Many athletes go through a cyclic procrastination phase for setting and achieving their personal goals, which at times can be unreasonable. Set achievable goals to avoid frustration and breakdown, and maintain some degree of consistency of your workouts and diet year round. But of course some cheating diet wise on occasion is allowed, as life doesn't always have to be so hardcore."
Dr. Robert M. Goldman MD, PhD, DO, FAASP
Chairman-A4M/International Medical Commission
"First off, don't sacrifice form for weights. Sometimes less is better. I found out that doing more reps is more beneficial. First it doesn't put as much stress on the joints and you get a much better feel in the muscles and a more efficient workout. Remember: the Muscles really don't know how much weight you are using, just your mind - food for thought. You can have the best of both worlds, meaning you can train heavy and light and get great results. I am not saying not to ever train heavy because that's not the case. What happens is when you train heavy for too long of a period of time you will eventually start doing damage to your joints and you won't feel the effect next week or probably next year but once you hit around 40 your body starts feeling some of the effects of this long term heavy lifting. What you can do is lift heavy for about a week or two, then go back to using lighter weights and more reps - you can rotate this cycle every four to six weeks.
Secondly, if you are a hard gainer here is a tip for you. I used to be a very hard gainer and I thought that if you train more often you would gain more mass. Well I found out that less is better. Stick with the basic movements such as squats, dips, chins, pullovers and calf raises'. You can visit my website www.billgrant.net for more training information and check out my Old School Training DVD on www.bodybuilding.com."
IFBB Professional bodybuilding legend
Keep Your Protein Up And Keep With The Times!
Hey guys, its 2008! Put your fears finally away. SOY protein is 100% equal in lean muscle building for MEN as Whey, Casein or Egg protein. And yes, you will gain just as much lean muscle mass from soy protein as any other protein powder. SOY also has NO negative effect on testosterone levels.
A recent high protein study by Miami Research Associates, found that soy protein (both soy isolate and concentrate) supplements did not decrease blood testosterone levels or prevent an increase in lean muscle mass in men. This study also demonstrated it did not interfere nor increase estrogen levels. The study concluded Soy protein builds lean muscle (mass) in men and is completely safe.
Male bodybuilders are the largest consuming audience of protein powders, RTD's and bars and for years we've been sold a bad bill of goods from some milk marketers. Actually, as more science emerges findings continue to demonstrate Soy Isolate is a great protein source for men. What's even more unique and greater news for bodybuilders it that some studies show blends of (Soy and Whey) may actually have greater benefits for lean muscle building than any single ingredient protein ingredient.
Many of your top selling protein powders and bars contain soy protein, either alone or in blend with whey, casein, egg, wheat and event the new pea proteins. If you wanted to build muscle don't be narrow minded put your worries away all these protein ingredients individually or together all work and build muscle. The most important part of gaining lean muscle is that you train hard, using approximately 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight to support muscle growth and repair, try to keep with a clean diet, drink lots of water, get plenty of rest and start growing.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Protein Or Carbs Is So Important To Grow!
Enzymes are very important. Your food is only as good as what your body breaks it down to and utilizes- many bodybuilders say "It's not exactly what you eat, but what you utilize that really counts". This is where a few relativity new digestive ingredients Aminogen and Carbogen become very effective in supporting your diet whether it's better utilizing your food or food supplements i.e. (protein powders, bars, RTDs and etc).
There are many very effective enzymes like Pepsin, Papain, Papaya to name a few but most just breakdown your nutrients into muscle energy not necessary supporting you with improved and greater Muscle recovery. This is where Aminogen as an ingredient found in your supplements is by far a superior digestive enzyme.
Aminogen is a patented enzyme with extensive clinical data showing how it helps the body breakdown food protein, improves the absorption of amino acids and increases nitrogen retention. Clinical studies show Aminogen increases free amino acids levels by 100%, branched chain amino acids (BCAA's) by 250% and nitrogen by 32%. This is where it helps you build more muscle mass and improves recovery.
Another interesting enzyme is Carbogen. This enzyme works to help the body make better utilization of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body's primary energy source so making better utilization of carbs will increase energy and your workout capacity.
Carbogen has been shown to increase endurance during exercise by 143% and decrease lactic acid by 275%. Look for either Amniogen or Carbogen or both in many of the great brands at your local at www.bodybuilding.com.
"There is no quick fix to getting in shape. It is certainly easier to pack on the pounds than it is to shed them. There are many things that go into losing weight but the biggest tip is: watch what you eat. Diet is key. Drink more water, cut out sugar and if I had to recommend one supplement - it would be glutamine. I use many other supplements but this is the one at the top of my list. A tip when going to Holiday Parties: eat a meal before going, this will curve the temptation to cheat while at a party and still allow you to enjoy yourself. Also bring a packet or two of Emergen-C and put it in your glass of water. It will look like you have a mixed drink and you can easily avoid people asking you repeatedly why you're not drinking."
Fitness marketing expert
"Watch your calorie intake, particularly fats and simple carbs and exercise regularly. The combination of cardio and weight training is the best to lose body fat and get that sought after six-pack. It's advisable to reduce or limit your intake of simple carbs, which are high on the glycemic index such as sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and a moderate amount of olive oil is essential for losing body fat and maintaining/gaining muscle while on a very strict diet (which typically is very low in carbs). The "bad" types of fats need to be watched such as the saturated type (mostly from animal fat and coconut products) and trans fats (vegetable oil that has been hydrogenated and used to increase the shelf life of commercial products). These fats have shown to be linked to heart disease also."
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
"When preparing for competition, I must get as lean as possible without burning muscle. To accomplish this I rely on cardio and diet. I like to adjust each every four weeks. Here is my cardio breakdown:
At 12 weeks out I begin 20-minute post workout cardio sessions. At eight weeks out, I begin two a day: one 20-minute session first thing in the morning and the 20-minute post workout session.
At four weeks out it is do or die. I kick up my morning cardio to 30 minutes and my post workout session can be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes depending on if I am behind or on schedule.
If I am behind I go for more like 25 to30 minutes. If I feel like I am on schedule. I keep it at 20 minutes. At this point, on non-workout days, I also do at least one 30 to 35 minute cardio session. I prefer elliptical of treadmill for my cardio.
Typically, I keep my intensity moderate going at 65% to 75% target heart rate zone. At the eight week out mark, I begin adding a pre-cardio protein shake (1 scoop of MHP's Probolic in a shaker for about 22 grams of protein). This helps reduce the chance of burning hard earned muscle. I like to eat so by doing my cardio in this fashion it allows me to eat a few more calories from carbs and this keeps me stronger in the gym."
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
If you know you continue to compete or do posing exhibitions, don't allow yourself to get out of shape completely; always be ready to look your best. And do the same thing that got you there - what works for me may not work for you.
"To truly understand how to grow muscle one must know the basic principle of muscle growth and that principle is the overcoming of the ability of muscle to survive. Put the muscle in a non-survival condition under high intensity training with little or no rest until absolute failure.
Example: Dumbbell curls start with a weight you can do eight reps, add weight and do eight more, add weight do eight more after this - continue until you cannot go up anymore; then go back down. You want to shock those biceps and add a half an inch to you arms in a week? Try this.
This would qualify as one set and John DeFendis and I would do five sets of these, without rest! Up and down. It is guaranteed to work."
"The most effective tip for nutrition that I'll reveal is carbohydrate cycling. It's the magic bullet when it comes to losing fat in a hurry. It's easy to do too. Eat no starchy carbs or sugars for two days. Eat as many green leafy veggies as you want and keep your protein intake high. Eat any type of meat, poultry or fish you enjoy. On the third day eat 100 to 200 grams of starchy carbs along with your veggies and protein. On day four, drop the starchy carbs and sugars again. Keep repeating the cycle. As you get used to the low-carb days, gradually increase them to four or five days straight and follow them up with a medium and a high carb day (400 to 500 grams of carbs). Combining this diet program with 30 minutes of cardio per day along with three to five days of weight training per week, will make the fat melt away quickly. It works for me and it'll work for you too!
I learned my most effective training tip years ago from a power lifter. He taught me how to use acclimation sets to warm up when preparing to use heavy poundage's. Instead of using the traditional form or pyramiding weights, he showed me how to save my energy and train heavier. I had always done 15 reps with a light weight, added some weight and did 12, added some more for10 to12 and then added even more and did eight. When I was ready for my heaviest sets of six reps, I was already tired. The power lifter explained that I was burning myself out on useless warm-ups and told me to do acclimation sets instead. Pick a light weight and do 12 to15 reps. Wait a minute, add some weight and then do five or six easy reps. Rest again and add more weight and two or three reps then do two more sets of progressively heavier singles and you're now ready to handle some heavy weight without feeling fatigued from your warm-ups. You'll notice a strength increase the first time you try this method."
Bodybuilding expert & Writer
"I think the best tip I can give to someone who wants to get in shape fast is that they need to be patient. Obviously that is a contradiction to 'getting in shape fast' however, typically long term body fat loss and maintenance of low body fat is done through slow, consistent progress. Let's say a person has 60 lbs of fat they want to lose. They didn't put on those 60 lbs of fat in 12 weeks, so why would they think they could lose it in 12 weeks? To lose that much fat that fast will require them to take their calories so low that when they start to eat normally again their metabolism will likely be shot and they will very quickly regain body fat. It is much better to lose body fat slower and keep calories higher; this will make it easier to maintain a low body fat once it is achieved.
In fact, almost all clinical weight loss studies find that the slower the weight is lost, the more likely subjects are to maintain their new weight. I would also encourage people not to fall into the trap of looking for 'tricks' to lose body fat. There is no magic diet out there. Eat enough protein to maintain your muscle mass and increase thermogenesis (1-1.5g/lb is a good start) and keep carbohydrates and fats in a sensible ratio. Recent studies have shown that ketogenic diets have no metabolic advantage over high protein non-ketogenic diets (Johnston et al, 30) so there is no reason to totally cut out carbohydrates or believe carbohydrates are evil. There is no shortcut to a great physique. It has to be forged through hard work in the gym and in the kitchen, period."
The Secret To Fat Loss
"In order to maximize fat loss while preserving precious muscle tissue, nutritional equilibrium must always be maintained within the body. Ideally, small frequent feedings (5-6 meals per day) containing lean protein sources (1g protein per lb of bodyweight per day), essential fatty acids (3/4g fats per lb of bodyweight per day), and minimal carbohydrates (less than 50g per day) should be consumed. This formula yields low insulin levels (less fat storage), high growth hormone (more fat burning), consistent blood sugars (stable moods), and no cravings. The science of this approach is such that the body welcomes fat loss with little to no resistance."
Raw Deal On Conditioning
"The manner in which I get into condition quickly is considered radical and probably will not interest many. This system is designed for the athlete whose metabolism is geared for lower carbohydrate consumption. It is constituted on a composite from the works of Armand Tanny, Vince Gironda, Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale, and a few other pure raw food experts.
Both Tanny and Gironda were early raw food eaters with Vince bucking the six meals per day regimen during the 1950s when he made an amazing body transformation. Dr. Di Pasquale has conducted extensive work on his Phase/Shift diet approach of 5 days lower carbohydrate and calories followed by one to two days of a higher intake.
Due to space limitations, I will forgo much of the explanatory detail and just state what I did and add some slight variations. I feel this system is the best and least catabolic/degenerative. It consists primarily of raw food.
The template is based around 2 raw beef meals. In 1956, Vince Gironda's two-meal plan had his first feeding centered on steak and eggs with the second meal consisting of steak and salad. He would eat both cooked and raw steak tartar. Surprisingly, twice daily feedings has historical precedence in various cultures around the world. Mr. USA Armand Tanny was an extensive raw meat eater from the late-1940s onward.
I find that the knack for using a two-meal system lies within each individual's ability to determine just what times of the day they can tolerate a bit of hunger and when they cannot. Obviously, these two meals would be placed in those slots where hunger is most difficult to deal with. Also, since the bulk of the calories come at these two meals, they are much more substantial than on a six meal plan.
For me, I can easily go without eating anything heavy through the morning hours. During this period, I will consume fresh, pressed green juice consisting of celery, parsley, and zucchini. I have my first raw meat meal around 12:00 noon or 1:00pm. My next meal will come around 7:00 pm or 7:30 pm since I don't like being hungry in the evening.
I also recommend for the initial stages to pop one raw fertile egg with one desiccated liver tablet every 60 to 90 minutes in between or around the two primary meals. You can use up to six eggs per day since they only present 450 calories. Raw eggs digest and absorb quite rapidly. It is a very easy way to get both quality protein and fat into the system fast.
On the weekend, I add more raw milk and honey to my diet with perhaps some cooked carbohydrate, but I keep from going crazy on the calories. Using this system alone I can lose body fat quite easily and maintain the diet indefinitely. It is a very nutrient dense eating plan that utilizes quality food in its purest and most vital state, albeit not necessarily its most tasty.
I don't like getting extremely lean because I don't believe it is healthy and I don't feel my best at that level. It stresses and mines the body, not to mention exposing it to environmental toxins. Body fat serves many purposes.
However, for those wishing to take the body fat lower, then it is only a matter of reducing the eggs and perhaps skipping every second weekend of higher calorie intake. You do not want to stay on a very low calorie diet for a prolonged period or it can become destructive.
Since my home also houses a 1,250 square foot world-class training facility, I orientate my two main meals around twice daily training sessions lasting about 20 to 30 minutes each. I don't like or use aerobics, so I do it all with weight training and little rest in between sets. I also utilize both high and low reps to challenge the muscles. I find I don't lose very much strength on this system. Any takers?"
Author of "Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors"
Dr. David Ryan
Sometimes it is easier when you train with high caliber athletes to show them what is expected. Most of my success as a strength, speed and agility coach has to do with having the athlete watch as I perform the requested task. If I ask an athlete to do three sets of 15 with 315 pounds for power cleans after I just performed the task, it is rather motivating to someone who is younger, taller, and otherwise more capable than I am.
Luckily, my past lifting experience has been with some of the greatest weightlifters and bodybuilder's that have ever lived. When you respect someone, it is easier to emulate who they are and what they do. Many times when I am training, I hear the words of the late Mike Mentzer or Franco, in the back of my head. It pushes me beyond where the normal person stops training."
Dr. David Ryan
Medical Director, Co-Chairman Arnold Fitness Weekend
"My tip: When I want to get into shape really quick I increase my cardio dramatically and cut my carbs dramatically but...as soon as I feel my body is getting really flat and worn out I'll throw a big couple of meals in containing lots of carbohydrates but continue with the cardio. This will make your body turn to fat stores in a big way but before your metabolism slows down or you get really run down you give it a good feed which gives your body a boost. I will also make sure my training stays as hard and intense as possible. I'll typically do 12-14 45-minute power walks in this situation and drop my carbs from around 200-300g/day to around 80-120g/day.
The 12-14 power walks are done over a week. And the big feed foods might be a large bowl of pasta, home made hamburger with low fat chips, large serve of sushi, home made pizza. I go for the home made stuff because then you can make it much healthier with better ingredients for muscle growth and recovery without all the added crap that's just going to weigh your body down."
International Fitness Model
"The first thing that comes to mind for getting into shape fast is to be in fairly good shape to begin with; never be too far out of shape. Everybody knows that, hates to hear that, but it's true. The better shape you are in, the better shape you can get in, and faster. Conversely, the farther you are out of shape, the more time and effort it takes to get back into shape. This is often needless and inefficient. It's also the unpleasant truth.
The best way to get into good shape, whether you are training for a bodybuilding contest, a photo shoot, or just have a personal goal to transform your physique or get into great shape, is to do so gradually. Time and gradual, progressive efforts in both nutrition and training will yield progress that adds up significantly over time. For those of us who are natural bodybuilders (i.e., drug-free trainers), for people with average or below genetics (most of us), this is crucial.
There are some very good minds who have figured this out and applied it with great success, such as Steve Reeves, Vince Gironda, Clarence Bass, Richard Winett, and Steve Speyrer. Bass and Winett have, I think, talked about losing perhaps a pound a month, or even less, to get into great shape. These guys are natural bodybuilders, extremely lean, so that is the key: gradual progression.
Reeves and Gironda, though they could get into shape really fast with special or emergency programs, never recommended that as a first choice, instead Gironda talked about taking a full nine months. Also Reeves and Gironda didn't bulk up, and strongly recommended against it. The gradual way worked because they were usually never very far out of shape.
Bulking up, in its many forms, is still a major reason for getting out of shape. Zane and Pearl were two guys who broke their training down into phases. Zane would take a full year to get ready for a show; Pearl took two years to get ready for his last Universe. Zane bulked up early in his career, then quit doing it. His eventual success is testament to the superiority of the gradual, progressive method. Steve Speyrer, a natural champion, used to get huge and heavy in the off-season, then finally learned his best contest weight was about sixty or seventy-five pounds (you read that right) less than that, trimmed down, won contests, and stays within a few pounds of his competitive weight even now. Many have learned the hard way, after desperately trying to lose a quick twenty, thirty, fifty or more pounds, so they've been cured of the quick-fix, crash-dieting, emergency-workout program and learn to do it all in a more successful, less painful way.
So paradoxically, working slowly, or at least gradually, is actually the best way to get into shape fast. In time this becomes easier, though perhaps not ever truly easy, but it will feel that way by contrast when you do things for the long haul. You will surprise yourself when you get better and better faster."
Professional freelance writer
- "Always train to be your personal best! Don't gauge your progress by others. Let the development of others motivate you to improve, but the best you can do is your personal best.
- Never become bored! If something is not working, change it. There is no one best way to train all the time. Don't let your mind and body become immune to your program.
- Always train for balance. Never neglect any area or body part. Perfect development is the ultimate goal.
- Diet for improved definition. Don't over train. Continue to look for the best diet and exercise combination for your unique body. There are many training and nutrition concepts. Try each one and keep what works best for you.
- Use personal self-improvement, as your goal of motivation. Competitions can be good to motivate you to improve, but remember it all comes down to the combined opinion of others. As long as you have made improvements in your physique, you are a winner!
- Read and view everything! Be open-minded. Just because a training concept is ancient, doesn't mean that it does not work.
- Talk to the past champions! They have gems of wisdom to share. They have forgotten more about bodybuilding than most current champs will ever know.
- Feel good about yourself! Not arrogant, but confident and thankful. Your health is a blessing and being able to train and improve is a gift. Appreciate it and take care of yourself. Bodybuilding can be a "here today and gone tomorrow" type of endeavor, but you have one body for a lifetime. Treat it well and it will treat you well!"
Natural bodybuilding champion
Founder of the Classic Anatomy Hall of Fame
Introduction | Nutrition | Tips From The Top
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