Friday, December 3, 2010

Is 16 minutes of cardio enough to get shredded?

Throughout the years I've often been asked the question, "Is 16 minutes of cardio really enough to get shredded?" People ask this question as though I was secretly doing hours of cardio when no one was looking and reporting to the world that I was only doing 16 minutes. That's simply not the case. I have always practiced exactly what I preach.

So is 16 minutes really enough? The proof is in the putting. I achieved what some called "drug like" condition in 2003 and finished an impressive fourth place in the light heavyweight class at the NPC USA (which is a non drug tested show) and capped off the contest season winning an IFBB Pro Card at the Team Universe. It was the best condition by far I ever achieved and I achieved that condition in large part due to the effectiveness of short duration/high intensity cardio.

Another great example of how effective 16 minutes is can be found in the documentary “I Want to Look Like That Guy.” In the film you see Stuart MacDonald undergo an amazing body transformation of 30% body fat to less than 6% body fat in 6 months. I’ll give you one guess what type of cardio Stuart did to achieve such outstanding results……If you said short duration/high intensity cardio you guessed correctly! Stuart did not spend hours doing cardio. He kept it short, he kept it intense and the fat melted away.

Short duration, high intensity cardio has a bigger elevating effect on your metabolism and keeps it elevated for a longer period of time after activity compared to long duration cardio. Plus, short duration cardio has less of any negative impact on the muscle building process. Those are two of the main points that make it the most effective approach for getting totally shredded.

The next time you are tempted to go for a 45 minute stroll on the treadmill STOP what you are doing and crank up the intensity for 16 crazy minutes of all out effort to really accelerate the fat loss process!

The other component for getting shredded is of course diet! I reveal the complete winning nutrition game plan in my new "Lost Logs" eBook. Along with every minute detail of my nutrition/supplement plan for 2003 you will see my detailed cardio log for insight on exactly how I implemented short duration/high intensity cardio to achieve the condition of my lifetime!

Believe. Achieve.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Body Transformation Tip!

To truly transform your body you need to have a strong muscle building component to your plan. This is true for men and women.

Remember that every ounce of muscle you build you will increase your resting metabolic rate and thus greatly aid the fat loss process.

Weight training is the catalyst for the muscle building component of your plan and there is no better weight training approach for encouraging muscle building than Max-OT.

Pictured to above is Stuart MacDonald and he underwent an amazing body transformation in a 6 month period of time and one of the keys to that transformation was Max-OT training. (You can see Stu's amazing transformation unfold in front of your eyes in the popular documentary "I Want to Look Like That Guy.")

Don't have the mindset that you have to lose weight before you focus on building muscle. It is best for your plan to have an emphasis on muscle building right out of the gate!

Believe. Achieve.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New eBook Unveils the Secrets for Getting Totally Shredded!

I'm excited to announce the much anticipated release of my "Lost Logs" eBook is finally here.

I believe this is the ultimate drug free bodybuilding nutrition resource. It’s a very rare look at the actual “play book” I used to become one the greatest drug free bodybuilders in history and now this eBook puts it all at your fingertips to help you construct your own winning game plan!

My "Lost Logs" contains explicit detail documenting every single nutrient I ingested as well as the timing of each meal. It also lists every supplement, exactly how much and specifically when I took them for the 18 weeks leading up to both contests.

In addition to all that detail you’ll see complete nutrient ratio breakdowns for every stage of the plan and as an interesting point of reference there is documentation of my bodyweight changes over the 18 weeks.

I often get asked how to adjust nutrition in the final days before a contest and what to do on the actual day of the show. No need to question any more as these logs illustrate exactly what I did with my plan right up to the very moment I stepped onstage.

My "Lost Logs" is also packed with some bonus information you won't find anywhere else:

*Contest Color Schedule - Any of you who have competed know how important onstage color is. It can make or break your physique. It took me years to perfect my contest color and now with this schedule you can see exactly what I did to achieve the perfect winning tan.

*Lost Cardio Logs - See record of all my cardio sessions from January 2002 through my Team Universe Overall Victory in August of 2003. Frequency, mode, distance, calories burned and intensity are all there in minute detail. This is the exact Max-OT cardio schedule I executed to get absolutely shredded.

*Body Weight Chart - View my body weight changes from August 2002 through August 2003.

Don't miss this opportunity to get the championship "play book" in your hands. Act now and get your copy of my "Lost Logs" at a special introductory price.

Believe. Achieve.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Don't Skip Your Post Workout Drink!

The most important time of the day to supply nutrition is directly after your workout. Your muscles are like dry sponges after training and ready to soak up valuable muscle building nutrients. It is up to you to supply what your muscles are craving so don't miss this critical opportunity to ignite muscle growth.

Directly after training I recommend whey protein isolate and my favorite is VP2 Whey Isolate by AST Sports Science. Along with whey protein you should mix a high glycemic carbohydrate like dextrose crystals or other liquid carbohydrate. In addition to the carbs and whey protein I add 5 grams of micronized creatine and 5 to10 grams of L-glutamine.

I have an eBook that will be released soon detailing the exact nutrition and supplement plan I followed on my championship run in 2003, including specifically what I ate and how I supplemented post workout.

Believe. Achieve.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Max-OT Warm-up Protocol

The goal of the Max-OT warm-up protocol is to gradually introduce heavier weights without approaching the point of muscle fatigue.

Below are the main points to consider when you are doing your warm-up sets. These points are taken from a passage contained in my book "Inside the Mind of a Champion." The complete passage explains each of these points in detail and gives some specific examples.

* Warm-up on the first exercise for a body part only.

*Progressively introduce a heavier weight each warm-up set.

*As you add weight each warm-up set, decrease reps.

*Do not approach the point of fatigue.

*Your last warm-up set (also called weight acclimation) should be close to your muscle-building set weight.

*4-5 warm-up sets should do the job.

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Principles are more important than the routine.

I get a lot of questions about which Max-OT routine is best to follow. The answer is there really isn't one Max-OT arrangement that is better than any other. The important thing is that each routine sticks with the important Max-OT principles:

*Train each body one time per week.

*Stick with basic free weight compound exercises.

*Train in a 4-6 rep range.

*6-7 total sets for larger body parts (chest, back, legs)

*4-5 total sets for smaller body parts (biceps, triceps)

*Train to achieve overload NOT muscle fatigue.

Remember, there are a number of different Max-OT routines you can follow and all can be effective. Let me reiterate the adherence to the Max-OT principles is more important than the actual arrangement you follow.

Believe. Achieve.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

See It, Be it!

I've always used visualization techniques to help me stay on track with my goals and it was a huge part of my success when I earned my IFBB Pro Card in 2003.

Before each workout I would visualize the body part I was about to train and see in my mind exactly how I wanted it to look onstage. Before each cardio session I would visualize how shredded I was going to be as well.

Visualization helped me to continue to elevate my performances each and every day for the entire year. Here's a snippet from my book "Inside The Mind of a Champion" where I talk about this powerful technique.

"....Great results aren’t going to happen by accident. They are a planned occurrence that happens through the design and consistent execution of an intelligent plan. To aid in the consistent execution of your plan it is helpful to create and stay connected to the vision of what you want to achieve.

A clear vision of what you want to achieve is a constant reminder of why you are adhering to your disciplined schedule. This reminder will direct your thoughts and actions in a positive way and help you make the most of each day by successfully completing all your scheduled tasks. With a clear vision and clear goals you’ll be less likely to skip tasks because you’ll be aware of the important role each task plays in turning your vision into a reality...."

To reach your full potential in anything you must unlock the power of your mind!

Believe. Achieve.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Biceps Training Tip!

There are many instances where people search for "new" and "inventive" training methods that will pack on gobs of muscle and often in this pursuit of new techniques they overlook the basics. I'll warn you right now the routine I am going to suggest may not look real flashy but it will be effective.

The best mass building biceps routines incorporate the Max-OT principles and are revolved around free weight exercises like barbell and dumbbell curls. These basic free weight exercises allow you to achieve maximum overload on the targeted area while using a full and natural range of motion.

Using the Max-OT principles means keeping the volume of total sets low and the intensity high. Here is an example of an effective Max-OT biceps routine:
  • Barbell Curls: 3 sets 4-6 reps (After warm-up)
  • Standing Dumbbell Curls: 2 sets 4-6 reps

This routine may not look fancy on paper but you can be assured if you apply the intensity it will blast your biceps and stimulate maximum muscle growth.

Believe. Achieve.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Power of the Mind

A big contributing factor to my success over the years has been the ability to focus on a goal and persevere through all the challenges that life throws my way. You have to work on your mindset and attitude just like you work on your body in order to achieve greatness in anything.

My new book Inside the Mind of a Champion is a very unique look at the mental side of the game and how I directed my thoughts during the best competitive year of my career.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction...

"...In late July of 2003, I placed 4th at the NPC USA in a light heavyweight class that was considered by many to be one of the toughest in the show’s history. For those that don’t know, what makes that feat even more impressive is the NPC USA is not drug tested. Not exactly a level playing field for a drug free competitor like myself but I relished the challenge to prove I could compete with the best, regardless of who was on drugs or not. In many ways that 4th place finish meant more to me than any victory.

Two weeks after the USA I achieved the crowning jewel of my career by winning the overall at the NPC Team Universe Championships and earned an IFBB Pro Card. Winning an IFBB pro card as a life-time drug free competitor is almost unheard of in the modern era of bodybuilding and cemented my place as one of the greatest drug free bodybuilders in the in history.

The training and nutrition philosophies I used that year were consistent with what I had done for the past several contests so what made the biggest difference in my results? Mindset!

In the pages that follow you’ll get all the mental strategies I used to push myself to the limits of personal performance day in and day out on my way to achieving what some would say is impossible...."

If you work on developing a strong mindset and unlocking the power of your mind you can truly reach your full potential.

Inside the Mind of a Champion is available in both e-book and hard copy formats.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to combat hunger while on low calories

I was recently asked how to combat hunger while following a low calorie diet. Here are a few tips to help.

*Drink lots of fluids. I don't have a problem consuming artificial sweeteners so I drink plenty of diet soda while on low calories. Coffee and tea are also great tools to combat hunger. I am a coffee freak and had plenty during pre-contest preparation.

*Eat lots of vegetables. Vegetables are the one food you can actually consume more of and it will help your weight loss. Vegetables add lots of food volume with negligible calories. Stick primarily with green crunchy vegetables and eat up!

*Keep your meals consistent. Eat a balanced meal every 2-3 hours max.

*Chew Gum. I found it helpful to chew gum to satisfy cravings and help bridge the gap between meals.

Along with these tips keep your "eyes on the prize" and stay connected to the vision of the physique you want to achieve. Realize that a little hunger is a necessary price to pay if you want to achieve an extreme level of leanness.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss

I am against the biggest loser mentality because I think it encourages the wrong approach to fat loss. A person’s goal shouldn't be to lose as much weight as possible in the shortest amount of time. It should be to lose fat and build muscle on a continual basis. Emphasizing muscle gains will yield the greatest long term results. The key phrase there is long term.

There are quicker ways to get more immediate weight loss results than the approach I follow, however, rapid weight loss often equals having a worse body composition (body fat % vs lean muscle %) than what you started with. Let’s examine why.

If your program is simply focused on weight loss you are most likely not doing things very conducive to building muscle or at minimum maintaining muscle and that is where the trouble begins.

Losing muscle is a bad thing for long term results because every ounce of muscle you can gain, you raise your resting metabolic rate. That’s right; with more muscle added to your body you will burn more calories each day right out of the gate. That is why having a strong muscle building component to your program is critical for fat loss.

Following Max-OT style training will set you up to build muscle, lose fat and really transform your body. That means you may not see much movement on the scale initially and that is OK. We are concerned with long term results and over time there will be a downward trend with your weight but it will not happen over night. For this reason I don’t encourage frequent weight checking.

Here’s another cautionary tale for scale addicts. Contrary to popular belief muscle does not weigh more than fat. That is like saying a pound of bricks weighs more that a pound of feathers. A pound is a pound. Muscle is, however, more dense than fat. That means the same volume of muscle will weigh more than the same volume of fat therefore you could be a few pants sizes smaller and yet weigh almost the same as you did when you were carrying more fat. You see how that works? This is a prime example why the scale is not the best way to measure progress.
I believe a better indication of progress is how our clothes fit or if you want to get more exact you can chart inches lost or measure your actual body composition. Another good tool is visual assessments and the use of photos to see the changes made over time.

The moral of this story is concern yourself with fat loss and not simply weight loss because they are two different things. Be patient and execute a smart plan that has an emphasis on building muscle.

Believe. Achieve.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day MASS Pack Special!

The MASS Pack is a collection of my best instructional products with a retail value of over $130.00. Normally the MASS Pack sells for an already discounted price of $79.95 but in honor of Father's day you'll save an extra $20.00 and pay only $59.95!

MASS Pack Includes:

  • Training DVD A
  • Training DVD B
  • Nutrition Seminar DVD
  • Training Journal
  • Autographed 8x10 Photo

This Father's Day special is only available until Monday so act now and save over $70.00!

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NEW BOOK - Inside the Mind of a Champion

I am very excited to introduce Inside the Mind of a Champion.

This special 118 page book is a collection of motivational thoughts, concepts and training tips captured during my remarkable journey towards earning an IFBB pro card and becoming one of the greatest drug free bodybuilders in history.

This book contains the best insights I can share from the best competitive year of my life. Throughout each page you'll get an intimate look at all the mental strategies I used to push myself to the limits of personal performance day in and day out on the way to achieving what many would say is impossible - earning an IFBB pro card drug free!

Inside the Mind of a Champion is available in e-Book and printed hard copy formats, both at a special introductory price. As an extra bonus, I will autograph the first 25 printed hard copy books sold!


Believe. Achieve.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Learn From the Best

In many ways it seems like only yesterday when I made my way to the gym for the first time and my love affair with bodybuilding began. I loved everything about it, especially the possibility of one day becoming a great competitor.

When I started out I was probably as naive as I was passionate. Naive about certain aspects of the sport, both good and bad. I didn’t know about supplements, nutrient timing, Max-OT or Max-OT cardio. I also didn’t know about the use of performance enhancing drugs in the various levels of the sport.

I remember when I first became aware that many top guys in the sport were using steroids. It was like finding out there wasn’t a Santa Claus. It disappointed me but didn’t discourage me. Thankfully I had a strong belief in myself and found role models that helped me stay true to my dreams and I continued going for the coveted IFBB pro card "my way."

I’m not here to preach, I never have been. To each his own and how you choose to go about bodybuilding is your decision, however don’t make that decision because you think you can’t be outstanding if you stay drug free. I am here to tell you that you can achieve great things training naturally and to make your quest easier there are blueprints for success you can follow.

Take a close look at accomplished bodybuilders who train drug free and learn from them. That’s exactly what I did and what I strongly prescribe to you. For example, I remember after the 1998 Team Universe I knew I needed guidance. I wasn’t afraid to seek out help and decided to go to the best. I just witnessed Skip La Cour come back from disappointment in 1997 to smoke everyone and set a new standard for conditioning at that show, so who better to learn from I thought. I modeled a lot of what I did after Skip’s approach. I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. I didn’t look at Skip and think “he’s better than me so he must be cheating.” I looked at him as someone who has achieved great things and someone I could learn from because he was obviously doing something right.

Unfortunately there are a lot of people missing the boat in my opinion. Rather than learning from the best natural guys they accuse them of cheating and assume they are lying about their methods. You can't have this type of limiting mindset and expect to achieve outstanding results.

If you open your mind and learn from the best, you can unlock your full potential.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What is Max-OT and why is it best for changing body composition?

Max-OT stands for Maximum Overload Training and is based on the physiological principle that overloading a muscle with heavy resistance creates the best stimulus for growth. The Max-OT principles were created by Paul Delia, CEO of AST Sports Science and are the principles I’ve followed exclusively since 1998. Paul was a very valuable mentor and I model a lot of my teaching after things I learned from him.

Max-OT is a low volume, high intensity approach to weight training that will maximize muscle and strength gains. Remember, this is very important to anyone interested in fat loss because every ounce of muscle you can build you are going to raise your resting metabolic rate and make fat loss easier. Plus, if you can build muscle you will achieve a more shapely/toned body when all is said and done.

When I speak about volume I am talking about the total number of sets and reps you are going to perform in any given workout. Most programs advise way too many sets and reps in my opinion, particularly those programs that are supposed to be designed specifically for “toning”.

I often hear people say they don’t want to lift heavy because they don’t want to get too bulky or they will point to one of my contest photos and say "I don’t want to get that big"; they just want to tone up. They make it sound as if the moment they start lifting any weights they’ll add gobs of muscle over night. Before I yell at them, I remind myself it is not their fault they have this fear of lifting heavy. It’s because that is what has been ingrained in their heads. We all hear it all the time….light weight and high reps for muscle tone and heavy weight with low reps for bulk (BTW - I hate the term bulk. To me that is another way of saying fat because adding quality muscle will never make anyone look “bulky”. A so called “bulky” look comes from too much body fat). Every time I hear the talk about light weights for muscle tone I want to scream because that is just not accurate and leads people to mediocre results.

You don’t need to lose any sleep over building too much muscle. Building muscle is very low on the physiological totem pull. You need to do a lot of things right with your weight training and diet to build muscle and not only that, you have to do these things day in and day out for a long, long time. Even then you might not build appreciable amounts of muscle depending on your body type. It is doubly hard for women right out of the gate because they don’t have the hormonal support to build muscle easily on top of everything else.

Take most drug free bodybuilders for example. They work their tails off for years doing everything geared towards building muscle from a diet, training and supplement standpoint just to add a few inches of circumference to their muscles. What makes the average person think they are going to start working out and become the Incredible Hulk over night? It just isn’t going to happen so stop listening to all that nonsense and start grabbing heavier weights.

Lifting heavy weights is not going to make you huge but it is going to set you up to build muscle way more efficiently than high rep training. The reason is because overloading the muscle with a heavy weight will create the best stimulus for the muscle to grow and become stronger. This is not my opinion, this is physiology talking. And let’s remember that is the whole purpose behind lifting weights to begin with is to build muscle and strength. (More muscle = higher resting metabolic rate and a more shapely body when you lose the fat with smart diet and cardiovascular exercise.)

I believe Max-OT is the best way to train to maximize results based on what physiology tells us and also based on my own 20 year real world study with myself as the primary test subject. Plus there are countless success stories of men and women all over the globe who've really changed their bodies by executing this style of training.

If you’ve seen our documentary “I Want to Look Like That Guy” it illustrates this point perfectly. In the documentary, Stuart MacDonald (Pictured Above) was the test subject and he followed Max-OT training for a 6 month period while also following the Max-OT cardio principles as well as a very strict and carefully calculated nutritional plan. In those 6 months his results were astounding and you can watch it happening right in front of your eyes during the film. He went from over 30% body fat to under 6% body fat and lost over 50lbs. All this by continuing to lift heavy weights throughout. If you follow the logic that heavy weights build bulk and light weights get you toned and trim then how do you explain Stuart’s outstanding results?

Keeping the weights heavy with Max-OT style training kept Stuart in a state where he was building and at the very minimum maintaining muscle throughout his strict diet and intense cardiovascular exercise. I guarantee you that if Stuart followed the “normal” guru advice and did a lot of high rep, high volume workouts with long duration cardio he would have never achieved the results he did. He may have been able to lose 50lbs or even more but his physique and body composition would not have been as incredible as there were at the end of the film. Why? Because he continued to have a muscle building emphasis with his weight training by using the Max-OT principles.

I've said it many times before and I will say it again. There are many different training philosophies and you can workout a variety of ways and achieve results. Some programs might work more on your athleticism, some on your agility and some on your flexibility, however, if your primary goal is to change your body composition then I firmly believe Max-OT is the best. To really change your body composition you must have a strong muscle building component to your plan and that is exactly what Max-OT will give you.

Believe. Achieve.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lower Back Training

One question that comes up from time to time is about lower back training in relation to the Max-OT workouts. I receive this question because most Max-OT routines don't have any specific lower back exercises. Here's my answer:

I don’t do any direct exercises to target my lower back. This is due to the degree the lower back is recruited during many compound exercises to stabilize the upper body. I feel that any additional work is not necessary and could possibly lead to over training the area.

One of the things that makes Max-OT the most effective way to train is because it is centered on basic compound exercises which are the best for maximum muscle recruitment and stimulation.

Movements like squats, deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, and bent over barbell rows all involve the lower back quite a bit. I feel that a Max-OT routine that includes many of these exercises gives the lower back plenty of work already.

If you feel your lower back is a weak point, you may want to include a couple sets of direct work to target the area. But remember, the lower back has already received a good deal of stimulation throughout the entire training week and doesn’t require a lot extra. I would say 2 to 3 sets of good mornings or weighted hyper extensions would be plenty.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Workout Duration Doesn't Equal Overload Success

One common question from people who are new to Max-OT training is about the short duration of the workouts. A lot of times people have been brainwashed into thinking long workouts equal better workouts and that is not the case when it comes to maximizing your gains. You want low volume/high intensity workouts focused on one or two muscle groups. You don't want to be in the gym for hours. In fact, if your workouts are taking you more than an hour to complete you may want to re-examine your approach.

Max-OT workouts will range anywhere from approximately 20 minutes to 45 minutes depending upon the body part arrangements. Don't be fooled by the short time span because short doesn't mean less intense. I'd argue it is just the opposite. Shorter workouts allow for greater intensity and focus compared to marathon workouts that span an hour or more. The longer you are in the gym and the more sets you have piled up the more likely your intensity and focus will decline over the span of your long duration workout.

Remember, the goal of each Max-OT workout should be to effectively overload the targetted muscle group(s) and the duration of a workout has nothing to do with the overload success achieved.

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Short Duration/High Intensity Cardio is Key

Short duration (16-20 minutes), high intensity cardio is a key element in the fat burning equation. A.K.A. Max-OT cardio.

Max-OT style cardio will have a bigger elevating effect on your metabolism and keep it elevated longer after exercise compared to long duration moderate intensity cardio. Plus Max-OT style cardio has less of any negative impact on the muscle building process.

Why 16 Minutes?

There is noting magic about the number 16. Your sessions could fall anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes. We settled on 16 because that seems to be a good time frame where you can keep maximum intensity and focus. The closer you get to 20 minutes the harder it is to maintain that high level of output. That's not to say 15 or 17 minutes wouldn't accomplish the task so don't over-analyze that number. The idea is to keep it between 15 and 20 and work your tail off every single minute!

How do I gauge intensity?

The best way I can describe it is you need to be "huffing and puffing" throughout the session and you need to be working out out of your comfort zone.

One tangible way to gauge this is to set distance goals and try to beat it. For example, if you travel 4.2 miles in 16 minutes on a recumbent bike then your next session you try to beat 4.2 miles with all settings being equal. Working to exceed your distance every time will quickly ensure you are working at the level necessary for maximum results.

How Often?

If fat loss is a primary goal then I'd say you should be doing Max-OT style cardio 5-6 days a week.

If you are in a maximum muscle building phase and looking to maintain condition then I think 2-3 days a week is good.

What makes you so sure?

I was just like all of you and early in my career I did the customary long duration/moderate intensity cardio because that is what the magazines said to do. I achieved good results doing more traditional style cardio, in fact, I won many contests doing cardio that way. However, I always had a hard time getting that razor sharp condition until I implemented Max-OT style cardio. Results went from good to GREAT!

Max-OT style cardio was one of the biggest factors in the outstanding condition I achieved in 2003. It was without a doubt the greatest condition of my career and that is why I am so confident in Max-OT style cardio.

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Posing Tip - Start from the ground up!

I was doing a posing coaching session yesterday with a first time competitor preparing for a contest coming up in August. We went over all the basic relaxed poses and the mandatory poses in great detail. It's amazing how much you can enhance your physique by holding the poses correctly.

One thing all you competitors should keep in mind as you work on your poses is to start each pose from the ground up. Many first time competitors are so focused on their upper bodies they forget about their legs and leave them relaxed and in poor positions. If you get in the habit of starting from the ground up you won't forget and your poses will all be complete from head to toe!

I go over this along with lots of great posing and presentation tips in my DVD "Posing to Win". I also offer 1/2 hour posing coaching sessions at my gym in Michigan for those interested in one on one assistance.

After you spend all those months dieting you should make sure you are presenting your physique to the best of your abilities when you hit the stage. Posing and overall presentation can be the difference between first and second place so don’t leave this important aspect of competition to chance.

Believe. Achieve.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Limiting Mindset

It always amazes me how so many people box themselves into mediocrity by having a limited mindset on what they believe is possible. If you believe something is not possible then you are correct, it is not possible. However, if you believe you can do it that opens up the possibility that you CAN achieve it. If you don't believe you can forget about achieving it and that is the origin of my slogan "Believe. Achieve."

If I would have listened to all of the people who told me it was not possible to build an IFBB pro caliber physique without using drugs I would have been defeated long before I set foot on any stage. I believed I could do it and that was my first step to accomplishing such a lofty and "unbelievable" achievement. I could have had the same genetic potential but had a totally different career if my mindset would have been limited.

It was more than 10 years ago when I decided the NPC Team Universe was going to be my path towards an IFBB pro card. In order to reach that goal I knew I would have to compete with the likes of the greatest drug free bodybuilders of all time. Two of whom I really admired were Skip La Cour and Chris Faildo. They were both competing in the Team Universe and both dominating their weight classes. They inspired me because I knew if they could develop those high caliber physiques drug free than I could do it too.

Skip and Chris were better than me at the time and so were many of the other guys at that level. That was very evident in 1997 when I first competed in the Team Universe and took 9th in my class. Same in 1998 when I took 9th again. Rather than looking at the top guys like Skip and Chris and saying, "they are better than me so they must be cheating" I didn't make any excuses and I didn't have a limiting mindset. Instead I sought out Skip so I could learn from someone who was better than I was.

Fast forward to 2003 and there I was in the overall against both Skip and Chris which was a big honor for me. These were two guys I had looked up to and was inspired by and now I was toe to toe with them battling for an IFBB pro card. What a rush!

So you can see the point perfectly illustrated in my own life story. If I would have taken on a limiting mindset of what I believed to be possible I would never have reached the brass ring. I chose to be inspired and educated by those who were more accomplished then me and I worked my tail off to maximize my own potential.

We all have the same choice. Which mindset do you choose?

Believe. Achieve.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Training Tip - How much weight do I increase?

I recently talked about when to increase weight and I said when you can get 6 reps on your own with good execution it is time to bump up the weight. How much do I increase you may ask?

When moving up in weight, keep this tip in mind. You always want to increase weight by the smallest increment possible. If you are using a barbell that typically means 2.5 lbs per side. If we are talking a cable machine or dumbbells then use the smallest increase available.

Your body will be able to accommodate these small increases better than bigger jumps in weight and thus it will help your strength progressions keep moving forward without hitting a plateau.

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Believe. Achieve. T-Shirts!

Be the first to get one of my JW Believe. Achieve. T-Shirts featuring a "new look" designer logo.

These stylish shirts are ultra comfortable and designed for a perfect fit. Available in Acid Black sizes S-XL and Distressed Black size XXL.

Believe. Achieve. T-shirts are just $19.95 USD plus shipping and available by special order only. Send no money now when you pre-order and I'll send you a PayPal invoice when your order is ready to ship.

Order yours today!

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"That Guy" Feedback.

A while back I mentioned that our documentary "I Want to Look Like That Guy" had made it through the first round of cuts for the L.A. Film Festival. We were recently informed that we did not make the final cut and will not be included in the festival, however, we did receive some nice comments from the screening committee and a reminder that this is merely an opinion and not a reflection on the overall quality and content of the film.

It would have been a nice feather in our cap to make it into the film festival but more important than that accolade is the continual great feedback I receive from those who have seen the film and come away inspired and motivated.

I think what I love most about the documentary is the completely honest light that it sheds upon the current state of the health and fitness industry and it hammers home what I feel is a very important message...."if you want to have an extreme physique you have to live an extreme lifestyle."

There continues to be gobs of misleading information spoon fed to the masses about fitness on a daily basis. Whether it is another celebrity peddling their latest fitness cook book and workout guide or some medical professional telling women they need a minimum of 1 hour of exercise a day to receive any benefits - the list of falsehoods goes on and on and I don't see it stopping any time soon.

I like to think this documentary is a beacon of truth in the otherwise murky waters of fitness information. This film doesn't try to paint some easy or magic answer of how to get fit quick but rather shows you what is possible if you execute a smart plan and are willing to "walk through the fire" to get to your goal. For that I am very proud of the story we tell.

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nutrition Tip - To cheat or not to cheat?

I am not a fan of the term "cheat meal". For me that creates a negative connotation when in reality there is nothing wrong or negative about factoring in some scheduled meals that are off your eating plan. This does, however, come with some factors to consider.

The more focused you are on changing your body, the more you have to account for your caloric intake and the more you need to make the calories you are consuming "work" for you. That being said, for the majority of people who just want to be healthier and lose some fat it is unrealistic and not necessary to never have any of the foods you enjoy as long as you do it within reason and as long as the majority of the time you are eating foods that are on your plan.

The important thing is to look at the trend of your eating habits over a period of time and you want the trend to by heavily slanted towards good days of execution verses bad. In the documentary "I Want to Look Like That Guy" I give Stuart the example that if 90% of the time you ate crap food and 10% of the time you ate healthy it would not help you out very much. Well the same is true going the other way. If you eat healthy 90% of the time then 10% eating off the schedule is not going to "derail the train" so to speak.

The rules change if you are trying to be ultra lean. If that is your goal then I say you want to make all your calories work for you every day of the week and you don't want to waste any meals on calories that are not going to perform the functions you are trying to achieve. Here's how I approached it. During the maximum muscle building phase of the year I would have one day a week to eat what ever I wanted, without going totally crazy. Once I was within 6 months of a contest I would cut out any non-bodybuilding foods and make sure all my calories were working for me 7 days a week.

So the moral of this story is in most cases it is fine and recommended to schedule some meals for enjoyment (not a license to gorge!) just make sure the overall trend of your eating pattern is heavily slanted towards following your nutrition plan.

If you approach it intelligently there is nothing that is "cheating" about it.

Believe. Achieve.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Training Tip - When to Increase Weight

If you are familiar with Max-OT you know the rep range we shoot for is 4-6 reps. When you can get 6 reps on your own with good execution it is time to bump up the weight. That being said you don't need to get 6 reps on every set of an exercise before you increase the weight. That's one commonly misunderstood principle. Let's examine.

We'll assume you are doing 3 working sets of an exercise. If you hit 6 reps on the first set you need to bump up the weight for sets 2 and 3. You should not be getting 6 reps every set. If you are, your intensity needs to be examined.

The reality is you should be closer to 4 reps on the last set of any exercise. It is even OK to get only 3 reps on the final set.

Don't get into the mind set that you should always be getting 6 reps. It will limit your weight progression, however this does come with one warning.....Don't sacrifice weight increases for good exercise exectution. You always want to find the best balance of both.

Believe. Achieve.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Favorite Sources for Protein Consumption

Throughout my career I consumed most of my daily protein through supplementation and I continue this practice today. (My favorite protein supplement choices are VP2, Muscle XGF and VyoPro Protein Bars).

I've always preferred getting most of my protein through supplement sources for 3 main reasons: quality, convenience and ease of measuring nutrient totals.

This is not to say that one can't get more daily protein through food sources this is simply what has always made the most sense and worked best for me. The main thing is that your nutrient total goals are met at the end of the day regardless of the sources you choose.

Before you stop and say the only reason I do or say this is because I'm sponsored by AST Sports Science, I say "know your facts before you accuse me of simply being a marketing tool for AST." Long before I became sponsored by AST Sports Science in 1999 I paid for all my supplements out of my own pocket for many years and I still followed the same type of pattern of getting most of my daily protein through supplementation. I always have practiced exactly what I preach and have never appreciated the insinuation that I lie about what I do to sell products.

I was recently asked if I thought the inclusion of so many meals through supplementation was a healthy way to go about it and I absolutely think it is as long as you add extra fiber in your diet with the inclusion of lots of green crunchy vegetables.

Believe. Achieve.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sample 3-Day Max-OT Arrangement

I was asked in response to the sample 5-day Max-OT routine if I could list a 3 day variation.

The principles remain the same the only difference each workout will be longer because you are forced to work more body parts each workout. For that reason I prefer to train over a 5 day period to keep the workouts shorter but if your schedule doesn't allow you to workout 5 days you can still achieve results with 3 days a week.

Day 1 – Chest, Shoulders & Triceps

Flat Bench Press….3 sets 4-6 reps
Incline Bench Press….3 sets 4-6 reps
Dumbbell Presses….3 sets 4-6 reps
Side Lateral Raises….2 sets 4-6 reps
Tricep Cable Pushdowns….2 sets 4-6 reps
Dumbbell Overhead Extensions….2 sets 4-6 reps

Day 2 – Back, Biceps & Abs

Deadlifts….3 sets 4-6 reps
Lat Pulldowns….3 sets 4-6 reps
Bicep Barbell Curls….2 sets 4-6 reps
Dumbbell Curls….2 sets 4-6 reps
Ab Rope Crunches….3 sets 8-12 reps
Swiss Ball Crunches….2 sets 8-12 reps

Day 3 – Legs & Calves

Squats….3 sets 4-6 reps
Leg Press….2 sets 4-6 reps
Stiff Leg Deadlifts…2 sets 4-6 reps
Seated Calf Raises…. 2 sets 6-8 reps
Calf Raises On Leg Press….2 sets 6-8 reps

Believe. Achieve.

Fat Loss Tip - Don't Simply Cut Carbs.

Many people are under the misconception they need to cut out carbohydrates when trying to lose fat. The truth is, carbohydrates play a vital role in muscle recovery and if you cut them out of your diet you will hinder your fat loss and muscle building capabilities.

A high carbohydrate diet is not recommended or necessary, however, specific selection and timing of carbohydrates is essential for maximizing your results.

After intense exercise you should consume a high glycemic liquid carbohydrate source to replenish glycogen stores and facilitate greater nutrient uptake. This specific post-workout carbohydrate timing is especially effective when combined with 100% hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate like VP2 whey isolate from AST Sports Science because the high GI carbs will satisfy the body’s energy demands allowing the Whey Protein Isolate to go directly towards muscle support. This is important for those trying to lose fat because the more muscle you can build and maintain while dieting, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be.

You also want to add some high GI carbs to the meals that fall within 3 hours after your workout. This is an important 3 hour window where nutrient uptake capabilities are at their highest.

As I've said before, don't fear carbohydrates rather understand their GI rating and time them accordingly. You should consume most of your carbohydrates and calories within the 3 hour post workout window.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sample 5-day Workout Schedule

I thought some of you might find it helpful to view a sample 5-day Max-OT workout schedule. There is nothing special about this arrangement or any other Max-OT arrangement for that matter. You can group the body parts and the order of days in any number of ways and still be effective.

Here are some important principles to keep in mind when constructing your schedule:
  • Train each body part once per week.
  • 4-6 reps for major body parts.
  • 6-8 total sets for bigger muscle groups.
  • 4-5 total sets for smaller muscle groups.
  • Select mostly free weight compound exercises.
  • Don't group large body parts together like chest and back or legs and chest.

MONDAY (Back & Traps)
Deadlifts....2 sets 4-6 reps (After warm-up)
Weighted Pull-ups.... 3 sets 4-6 reps (After acclimation set)
Bent-over Rows.... 2 sets 4-6 reps (After Weight Acclimation)
Barbell Shrugs.... 2 sets 4-6 reps (After Weight Acclimation)

Flat Barbell Bench Press.... 2 sets 4-6 reps (After warm-up)
Incline Barbell Bench Press.... 2 sets 4-6 reps
Weighted Dips.... 2 sets 4-6 reps

WEDNESDAY (Legs & Calves)
Calf Raises On Leg Press.... 3 sets 6-8 reps
Seated Calf Raises.... 2 sets 6-8 reps

Squats.... 5 sets 4-6 reps (After warm-up)
Stiff Leg Deadlifts.... 2 sets 4-6 reps (After weight acclimation)

THURSDAY (Biceps, Triceps & Forearms)
Barbell Curls….3 sets 4-6 reps
Standing Dumbbell Curls….2 sets 4-6 reps

Lying Triceps Extensions….3 sets 4-6 reps
Cable Push-downs….2 sets 4-6 reps

Barbell Wrist Curls.... 3 sets 6-8 reps

FRIDAY (Abs & Shoulders)
Cable Crunches.... 3 sets 8-10 reps (After weight acclimation)
Weighted Leg Raises.... 2 sets 8-10 reps

Military Barbell Press (To the front).... 3 sets 4-6 reps (After warm-up)
Side Lateral Dumbbell Raises.... 2 sets 4-6 reps
Seated Rear Lateral Dumbbell Raises.... 2 sets 4-6 reps

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Don't Over-complicate the Process

The muscle building process is actually pretty simple. When I say that, I am not talking about the effort required to execute the process, just the basic formula which can be summed up as stimulus and response. Muscle is best stimulated to grow by being placed under heavy mechanical tension (overload) and responds to that stimulus by building bigger stronger muscles through proper recovery.

It’s almost like some people feel a need to make it harder than that. So they over-examine things, dissect the minor details and look for the hidden strategies. In the process of scouring particulars they miss the bigger picture. Like Paul Delia once told me, “They are missing the dollars to pick up the pennies.” That has been a favorite saying of mine ever since.

For instance, some people ask me questions about weight selection. They say they are confused and don’t know exactly when to increase weight or what percent to increase it by. Rather than making it difficult, simply use the 4-6 rep range as your guide. If you can get 6 reps on your own then increase weight by the smallest increment you can. It doesn’t have to be a perfect science as long as you progressively work to use more weights while staying in the 4-6 rep range with good control and execution.

If you over analyze the process you are wasting energy and causing yourself unnecessary confusion. The principles are pretty clear cut and spelled out simply throughout the Max-OT course. And above it all, the underlying key to your success is the consistent hard work you do while executing those basic principles.

You can basically break the muscle building process down to a few major points:

*Train heavy with the Max-OT principles.
*Follow a good nutrition schedule daily.
*Practice smart post workout nutrient/supplement selection and timing.
*Train with Intensity.
*Execute the program consistently.

Don’t over complicate the process rather channel your efforts towards executing the plan to the best of your ability each and every day.

Believe. Achieve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Abdominal Training Tips

There is a big misconception when it comes to abdominal training. You often hear that in order to trim your waist line you need to do countless high rep sets of crunches and you need to train your abs frequently throughout the week. This is simply not true. You can’t spot reduce fat around your waist no matter how many reps you do so forget about it.

To have great abs you need two things. One is good abdominal muscular development and the second is a low level of body fat so the musculature is visible. Neither of these ingredients is accomplished with frequent high rep ab training.

For increasing abdominal muscular development you need to think of ab training like you do any other muscle group. If you want to increase development, you need to train the area with resistance. I recommend overloading the abs in an 8-10 rep range. A higher rep range is used compared to the normal Max-OT 4-6 reps so you can effectively overload the abs while maintaining good form and feel during every rep and maintaining tension on the abs. I'd say my favorite exercies for overloading the abs is cable crunches.

As for frequency, I think direct ab training once per week is plenty. Remember, abs get a lot of work all week long stabilizing your body during free weight compound movements so one time a week with direct overload should be all you need.

After increasing abdominal muscular development by executing intelligent Max-OT training you need to focus on the other ingredient for great abs which is shedding body fat and that is accomplished through attention to diet and intense Max-OT style cardio.

If you are smart and consistent with your diet and cardio, you’ll melt away the fat and the abdominal muscles you’ve worked hard to develop will be visible. The end result will be an awesome set of rock hard abs.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Examining Deadlifts

Not all exercises are created equal. Some are far better at stimulating muscular development than others. It is a wise choice to structure your training schedule around the most effective exercises in order to maximize your time and efforts in the gym.

As a rule, free weight compound exercises that involve movement through more than one joint and the recruitment of multiple muscle groups are most effective. Compound exercises require you to balance the weight as it travels through a natural and full range of motion, while effectively achieving maximum overload. These are all very important characteristics to look for in the exercises you choose. That is, of course, if you want to achieve the greatest results.

When you are talking about compound exercises that involve multiple muscle groups and movement through multiple joints, deadlifts is one of the best. Along with squats, it is hard to think of another exercise that has as much total body involvement.

The nature of this exercise makes it extremely effective for stimulating muscular strength and development from head to toe. It also makes it possible to generate a lot of power and handle some pretty serious weights.

As they say, “with great power comes great responsibility.” That is very true when it comes to executing deadlifts. To get the most out of the movement and to protect yourself from injury it is important to fully understand the mechanics of this exercise and develop great execution techniques before building up to massive weights. Remember – better execution will lead to greater results.

When I perform deadlifts I like to envision my body working as one powerful unit to raise the weight off the ground as my body moves from a squat into a standing position. I like to feel the power I can generate each rep by driving through with my legs and keeping my abs and lower back (core) tight as I stand up. This helps remind me to use my whole body to move the weight and not place all the stress on my lower back.

To begin I stand with my feet a little less than shoulder width apart and my shins very close to the bar, approximately 1 or 2 inches away. I squat down and grip the bar with an overhand grip and my hands positioned a little wider than my legs. I like to use wrist wraps to help my grip strength.

To start the movement I keep my head looking up to help maintain a natural arch in my back and my abs and lower back remain tight. I generate the initial part of the move by keeping my butt low and driving through with my legs and hips as I lift the weight off the ground. I keep the bar close to my body, almost as if I was dragging it up my legs until I get to a standing position.

Once I am standing straight I don’t hyper extend my back by leaning backwards, I stop and prepare mentally for the second part of the movement.

I follow the same procedure in reverse for returning the bar to the starting position. I keep my head up and back arched with the bar remaining close to my body. As I lower the weight I squat down using my legs to help me lower the weight. Under complete muscular control I sit the weight back on the ground.

Once the weight is stationary on the ground I make sure my grip is set and my base is sturdy with my feet firmly planted. I remind myself to keep my butt down and my head up. When I am mentally and physically prepared, I do another rep.

I find it helpful to “reset’ myself after every rep rather than trying to do one continual set with no rest. Resetting myself after each rep keeps my form and focus strong and helps me execute the exercise correctly. This is especially important during a full body compound exercise like deadlifts.

Deadlifts have always been a challenging exercise for me and for the longest time I never felt very comfortable with the form and execution. I didn’t even include deadlifts the first several years I started bodybuilding because I didn’t realize the importance of the exercise or its impact on overall development, especially for the back and traps. Once I understood the important role deadlifts could play I made a commitment to learning and executing them better. As my execution improved, my confidence grew and so did my weights. Consequently making deadlifts a bigger part of my training really improved my back development and it was especially noticeable the last couple years of my career.

I definitely think it is worth your while to incorporate deadlifts into some of your Max-OT routines. Take the time to learn and get comfortable with the mechanics of the exercise and then work to increase your weights from there.

I often say "basics are best" and it doesn’t get much more basic than loading a bar up with weights and picking it off the ground.

Believe. Achieve.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Off Season" Cardio

There’s not a doubt in my mind that Max-OT style cardio (short duration/high intensity) is the most effective way to approach cardiovascular exercise based on research and my own personal experience. Max-OT cardio played a very big role in achieving the best condition of my life when I won my IFBB pro card at the Team Universe.

One fairly common question I get is about cardio in the "off season." First I'd like to say I don't really like the term "off season" as there really is no such thing, especially for a drug free bodybuilder. I prefer to look at the training year in phases as they relate to a contest date. You have a maximum muscle building phase where you are gearing things towards gaining fat free mass as your primary goal and as you enter the pre-contest time frame (for me that's about 6 months prior to a show) you gradually shift your plan to emphasize maximum fat burning. Or as I like to say you shift the pendulum from maximum muscle building to maximum fat burning.

(The photo to the right illustrates my "off season" condition 15 weeks out from a contest. I did more cardio during that maximum muscle building phase then ever before and really emphasized staying in good condition all year. The additional cardio didn't hurt my muscle building phase as I was a very solid 227 lbs.)

Obviously the primary goal in a maximum muscle building phase is exactly as the name implies - build maximum muscle, so why do cardio you may ask? One big reason is during your quest to pack on mass you also want to keep body fat levels in check and that’s where Max-OT cardio fits into the equation. You don't want to gain weight just for the sake of gaining weight if a large percentage of the gain is from fat and not muscle. The more fat you gain, the more fat you will have to lose to be shredded on stage.

I hear some people say they steer clear of cardio in the off season because they don’t want to disrupt the muscle building process in any way but with Max-OT cardio that doesn’t need to be a concern. The short duration and intense nature of Max-OT cardio has very little if any negative impact on the muscle building process. In fact, after Max-OT cardio you create a period of potential increased nutrient uptake similar to after intense weight training so it can be anabolic in that sense.

Cardio should remain a part of your schedule all year and is a training variable you adjust depending on your specific emphasis at any point and time. If you are in a maximum muscle building phase I recommend 2-3 sessions per week and you increase the number of sessions from there as you start to shift your emphasis towards maximum fat burning.

Aside from keeping body fat levels in check, Max-OT cardio also provides important cardiovascular health and endurance benefits and that’s another reason I feel Max-OT cardio should remain a part of your plan all year.

The maximum muscle building phase is not an excuse to get fat so don't forget to keep a spot open for Max-OT cardio in your "off season" training plan.

Believe. Achieve.

Great Podcast Interview

I was recently the special guest on BEYOND DIET Podcast and had a very interesting interview that is now available.

We touched on a variety of topics including Max-OT principles and my basic nutrition philosophy. We also got into some personal stuff as I discuss my bodybuilding origins, the decision to remain drug free and I share some special advice for those who want to achieve an outstanding drug free physique.

Check it out for lots of great information and stay tuned for the entire broadcast to hear about an exclusive offer just for BEYOND DIET listeners!

Believe. Achieve.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Progressive Overload, Progressive Gains

You’ve heard me say many times that progressive overload with the Max-OT principles is the key to continual muscle gains but how much weight should you add and when should you add it? There’s no magical formula but there are a few guidelines you can follow to keep each workout heading in a maximum muscle building direction.

I’ve found it helpful to establish individual daily goals of bettering my numbers each workout. I try to increase the weight or get more reps (in the 4-6 rep range) with the weight I left off with the previous week. These individual workout goals give me concrete objectives to accomplish and help me assess the success of each workout.

A fairly common question I get is when to increase weights. A simple rule of thumb is when you can get six reps on your own with good form and execution it is time to increase. If you let the rep range be your guide, you’ll be in good shape. Don’t get ahead of yourself and add weight if you can’t complete 6 reps on your own.

If you are doing two or three sets of an exercise you don’t have to get six reps on all sets before you increase. When you get six reps on the first set go ahead and increase for the remaining sets. Remember, more overload equals greater muscle growth stimulation so ideally you should be at the lower end of the rep range on your latter sets.

When you increase weight I recommend moving up with the smallest increments possible. Small increases add up over time and are a more favorable approach for encouraging progressive strength gains.

You don’t have to make monumental changes each workout to ensure continual progress. Modest daily goals of bettering your numbers will keep you moving steadily forward.

Believe. Achieve.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Forced Reps – To do, or not to do?

You’re pounding out an intense set of bench presses and you’re just about at your limit. You want to pack on as much mass as possible and nothing is going to stand in your way. You’re not about to stop the set so you grunt to your partner, “two more” because you know those extra two forced reps with help are what separates the men from the boys and will ignite crazy new muscle growth, right? Wrong!

Upon first glance forced reps may seem like a good idea. I mean forced reps allow you to get more reps with more weight….or do they?

If you really think about what a forced rep is, you’ll realize it is a rep with less total overload. There is less overload because your partner is assisting with the lift thus making the load lighter. For all intents and purposes finishing your set with one or two forced reps is like ending with lighter weight. This is not ideal because less overload equals less muscle growth stimulation.

Also, forced reps prematurely fatigue your muscles because you end up doing one or two reps beyond positive failure (which is the point at where you can’t complete any more reps on your own) with a lighter weight. Muscle fatigue decreases the amount of overload or weight you can use on your remaining sets and is another reason forced reps should be avoided.

Here’s another thing to consider. If you are getting help on the last rep, it makes it harder to know when to increase weights because you are not truly getting those reps on your own. If you are getting 6 reps with no help at all you know it is time to increase weight, no questions asked. Stopping at positive failure will give you a much more accurate gauge of strength increases.

I trained with forced reps for many years before finding Max-OT. After I adopted the Max-OT principles I admit it was a hard habit to break. Stopping at positive failure was something I had to learn and a skill it took me a few years to refine.

My best advice on this subject is get in the habit of stopping at positive failure with at most taking a little help to complete the final rep of a set and no more.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Drug Free Muscle Building Tip - Choose your plan wisely!

So, have you looked at the latest and greatest routine from your favorite muscle building magazine lately? Maybe one guaranteed to put and extra inch on your biceps in record time?

You need to be careful before you embark on any of these “advanced” workouts and consider the fact that the people advising these routines may not be the best sources of information for you to follow.

If you are a natural bodybuilder and are training without the use of performance enhancing drugs you must train smart and for the most part that means ignoring the training advice in the popular magazines. Reader beware!

Often times the workouts prescribed by the popular press are less than ideal from a muscle building standpoint for the drug free bodybuilder. The workouts typically consist of too many sets, isolation exercises, super sets or other “advanced” principles which will catapult you straight into muscle fatigue and keep you spinning your wheels in the land of stagnant results.

Your best bet is to make sure you are learning from sources that are relevant to drug free bodybuilding. That means modeling your approach after proven methods that top natural bodybuilders have used to achieve great success.

When I first started bodybuilding some 20 years ago I made the same mistakes that most people do. I learned largely from the popular magazines until I found AST Sports Science and Max-OT. The good news for you is you don’t have to waste your time sifting through all the B.S. to try and find a sound program that will truly maximize drug free results. The answer is already right in front of you.

Max-OT is the proven method that I've used for more than 10 years and has been critical to my success. I've advised countless people to use Max-OT and all with great results. You can see an awesome visual example of what these principles (training, cardio and nutrition) can do in the documentary "I Want to Look Like That Guy."

Unfortunately drug use is a sad reality of the sport especially at the top levels. I am not writing this to preach but rather to shed some light on the situation and remind you to be aware and make sure the advice you are following is relevant to drug free training.

Believe. Achieve.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fat 2 Fit Radio Interview

A few weeks ago, Stuart MacDonald and I sat down to talk with Fat 2 Fit Radio about our Documentary "I Want to Look Like That Guy." That interview is now available.

Here's what Fat 2 Fit has to say:

In this episode, we are going to be talking about a documentary called I Want to Look Like That Guy. This documentary was brought to our attention in the Fat 2 Fit Support group from one of our long term listeners and it looked very interesting. Jeff purchased it, and found it very compelling.
The documentary is about a basically average, middle age guy who is a little overweight just like the average person these days, and he wanted to find out what he would have to do to look like that guy in all of those ads in the different fitness magazines. All of those ads seem to be selling a product or program that promises that you can look just like the fitness model in those ads quickly and with little effort. So Stuart MacDonald, the filmmaker, decided that he would do whatever it takes to get that exact look of those guys. He soon discovered that all of those guys are bodybuilders and live that lifestyle to get that look for the magazines. He then hooks up with a professional drug free bodybuilder and gym owner, Jeff Willet, in his town and says, “I want to look just like those guys in the ads.”

Hope you enjoy the interview.

Believe. Achieve.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Form: Work with your natural biomechanics

I often get asked about proper exercise form and commonly the exercises in question are curling movements. Here's my take.

Contrary to popular belief, you should not remain super strict with your motion when doing barbell or dumbbell curls. You should allow your body to move naturally thereby working with your biomechanics rather than fighting them. Working with some natural movement you'll enable you to handle more weight and handle it safer by not adding undue stress to your joints.

Don't confuse biomechanically optimized or "loose" form with sloppy form. It is quite the opposite. You are still controlling the weight throughout the movement rather than jerking or throwing it.

It is difficult to write about form and much easier to understand if you see it. Biomechanically optimized form is illustrated in my series of training DVD's along with a detailed explanation of all the important Max-OT principles.

Believe. Achieve.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Overload is more important than variety.

I don't believe in the idea that you need to confuse your body with different exercises on a regular basis in order to get continual results. As long as the overload is progressively increased over time, your muscles will keep being triggered to respond to the heavier weights they are subjected to. I use myself as a prime example. I've done the same basic exercises for years on end and achieved great results because I continually challenged myself with progressive overload and high intensity.

If you like to change your routines and exercises for mental freshness, that is fine but don't do it under the idea that physiologically you need to "shock" your body. I recommend taking a week off training after every 8-10 weeks and when you start back that is a good time to change things up. Again, this change is more for mental freshness.

My best advice on this subject is stick with basic compound lifts for your exercise selections and work on progressively improving your numbers each workout. When you hit 6 reps with good execution you need to add more weight. Simple as that! If you follow this method you don't need to worry about "shocking" your muscles.

Believe. Achieve.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Positive Affirmations

You've heard me talk about positive affirmations before and how effective they can be at directing your thoughts and molding your attitude.

I had two positive affirmation statements that played a big role during my training in 2003. I wrote these two statements on white note cards with blue Sharpie marker and placed them in multiple locations that forced me to look at these cards continually for months on end. They helped me strive for excellence each day and made me continually ask more of myself. Thankfully I kept two of these infamous note cards and I snapped a picture to show you.

Notice how they are written as a statement of fact. This is very important when you are writing your affirmations. Don't say things like "I want to be" or "I will be" say emphatically "I AM!"

Viewing these powerful positive affirmations repetitively will direct your thoughts and help you make decisions throughout each day that will lead you closer to making your statements a reality.

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Don't Over-Complicate the Process

This is a subject I've touched on before and I think it is worth mentioning again.

The actual process of building muscle and burning fat is pretty simple. We best build muscle by training with heavy weights and basic compound lifts and we best attack fat with high intensity cardio and smart nutrition with a strict eye on caloric intake. That's it!

The hard part should not be the plan itself but rather your dedication towards executing the plan on a daily basis with an understanding that the real magic happens from your attention to nutritional detail over a long period of time.

I don't know how many times I see people who are not achieving the results they want and the first thing they do is to start searching for a new workout approach. They want some magic way of training that is going to transform their body. Let me tell you, there is no magic way. Again, don't over-complicate it. Stick with basic compound movements, train with heavy weights and really pay attention to your nutrition. And to add to that, if you are focusing on fat loss you have to add more cardio to your plan. Not more as far as the duration of each session but more as far as frequency of sessions per week.

For outstanding results keep it simple and execute the basics over a long period of time!

Believe. Achieve.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lagging Body Parts

I was recently asked if I could address the issue of bringing up lagging body parts. This is a pretty common question and here's my take on it.

It is inevitable that you will have some body parts that seem to respond quicker than others. Following a smart plan like Max-OT will naturally improve overall balance.

Max-OT training places an emphasis on basic compound movements. The nature of these free weight compound movements have a lot of overall body involvement and thus improve the balance of your development over time.

If you've been at it for a while and still have lagging body parts you can do like I did and prioritze your training week to attack those body parts first when you are mentally and physically freshest.

The last couple years of competing I emphasized my back. I felt that was a weak area so I prioritzed it by training it early in the week. I also made basic compound movements like deadlifts and barbell rows the primary exercises of my back routines. And I really focused on the exercise execution to make sure I was directing the majority of the overload to the intended area.

Avoid the instinct to increase frequency for lagging body parts. That will actually be counter productive because you run the risk of over training the area. Don't focus on more frequency, rather focus on more intensity and better execution for the body parts in question.

In summary to address lagging body parts don't do more just do everything better! More focus, more intensity and greater execution!

Believe. Achieve.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Attitude is Everything!

When you are striving to achieve a goal your attitude is so important. No matter how motivated you are, you won't always feel like doing everything on your schedule. That's just a part of life. It doesn't mean you want your goal any less it just means you are human. You have to direct your thoughts and control your attitude to stay on track and perform each task, each day to the best of your ability. Only then will you fully maximize your potential.

A great attitude is something you need to work on the same way you need to train your muscles. You need to do this every day. I've always found it helpful to use visualization. I connect to the vision of what I want to achieve and this keeps my attitude positive and my motivation high. I know that every task I successfully complete will take me one step closer to achieving my ultimate goal.

Successful people are able to power through the obstacles and are willing to do the tough tasks even when they don't necessarily feel like it. They are able to see the big picture and understand that hard work done consistently day in and day out will lead to accomplishing their goals.

The next time you don't feel like doing a scheduled task, instead of complaining about it, ask yourself if complaining is going to get you closer to achieving your goal OR is executing the task to the best of your ability a better choice? I think the answer is pretty clear.

Believe. Achieve.