Monday, December 31, 2012

Reconditioning Part I

My last post covered injury prevention techniques and can be read here.

Let's say it's too late for prevention and you've already hurt yourself in some way.  Whether the injury is severe or mild,  a proper rehabilitation protocol needs to be implemented immediately in order to prevent further regression and inhibition.  You'd be surprised how many people have "life changing injuries" that could have been just "injuries."  Immediate effort to restore function and mobility can be the difference between complete restoration or lasting disability.  Here are some basic rehab techniques for common problem areas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Injury Prevention 101

When people think about lifting weights, they primarily think about becoming more muscular.  But the benefits of weight lifting extend far beyond that.  As I've discussed previously, weight lifting can have positive effects on both the endocrine and metabolic system.  But pumping iron also aids bone density and strengthens connective tissue--a desirable side effect that is often overlooked.  Working at a physical therapy office, I see a wide range of patients with a wide range of injuries that need to be rehabilitated, but the one trait they share is that their injuries could have either been prevented, or at the very least ameliorated, by strength training.  I'm not saying people don't hurt themselves doing stupid things; I am saying that doing stupid things won't hurt as badly if you develop your body.  Here are a few more ways to help keep yourself from going under the knife.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tri This

The triceps isn't a particularly complex muscle, but it can be a tricky one to develop properly.  A lot of people have problems in their upper body with symmetry and proportion, and the triceps is no exception (I am no exception either--left side fail!).  Most people have imbalances within the triceps as well, usually caused by chronic imbalances in the training itself, not to mention structural differences and variations in chronic postural tendencies from side to side.  That being said, here are a few pointers to help with symmetry, general development, strength, and size!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Press Play

I love the gym!  Why?  Because it's a great excuse to zone out to some excessively loud music!  Here's what I've been mainlining lately: a few throwbacks, some old stand-by's, and some new finds from Pandora.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Back 2 Basics

For the last few weeks I've been trying something a little different with my training.  I've changed up my split a bit and I'm now using a five day rotation, where shoulders are trained with chest and biceps, hamstrings are trained with quadriceps, and triceps are trained with back.  This split also includes two full rest days, and the increased recovery between training sessions has really paid off.  This type of grouping in the split minimizes shoulder and elbow stress, as those bodyparts with overlapping stress zones have generally been grouped together, or on opposite ends of the rotation.  I'm also sort of going back to basics with this recent change, and really trying to perfect some of the more traditional compound movements that I've neglected in the past.  For example: decline bench, traditional squats, one-arm row, and even french press.  Time to dust off those old favorites!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Second Chance // Insanity Legs

My training partner likes to say that past-failure techniques such as dropsets, cheat reps, partial reps, and even forced reps really only work because they give you a second chance at a high intensity set.  Now this might sound like a bit of a philosophical viewpoint, but it's actually an ultra realistic one.  Ultimately, intensity is the only deciding factor in growth and rate of growth.  Yes, isolation plays a part as well, but your intensity level directly impacts how completely you exhaust each muscle, how often you train each muscle, it even determines the volume you use during your training.

As you approach failure, several factors may determine which technique, if any, you choose to use.  Here are the most common past-failure techniques, along with a few guidelines and contraindications for each.  Remember, use them one at a time!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Having a Great Off-Season

So I've been more or less in off-season mode for the past year, my last prep was for the 2011 Tahoe Show last August.  But for a lot of people, summer is contest mode every year, so as we start heading into another bulking cycle, let's go over a few thoughts for having the most successful off-season possible.  How do we define success?  Lean muscle growth with a lean starting point for the next prep.  Credit to John Meadows, aka mountaindog1 on, for formulating the four thoughts which were a basis for this post.  I've re-worded to improve flow and inserted my own comments where appropriate, as well as noting which comments are purely his.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This N' That

This song is definitely about getting huge, just listen to the lyrics!

A custom print I did just the other day...

And my new chest training video!

I never get sick of that mix I keep using ;)

See how my shoulders are a bit uneven on crossovers though?  That's why filming yourself has more than just the obvious narcissistic uses.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Summer Ennui, Intensity Update and Fresh Motivation for Fall

Alright, so I haven't posted in about a month... I refuse to apologize though, because a blog is about self-expression and if you don't have anything to express, there's no reason to go through the motions.  Besides, YouTubing and blogging are both very time-consuming and summer is a busy time for me with full-time work and whatnot.  But fall is here and that means more time to edit videos, write posts, and re-dedicate myself to bodybuilding.

I am looking for suggestions for post topics though.  I feel like I've covered SO much: nutrition, pre-workout supplements, protein concerns, intensity, frequency, split organization.... What do you want to know that I haven't covered yet?  Comment below!

Next topic: I am changing my intensity and frequency (if you remember, they necessarily limit one another) to an even stricter HIT approach--this has been going on for a few weeks now.  I've dropped the second "light" workout, and I am using more "past failure" techniques such as drop-sets, partials, etcetera during my single heavy workout.  I've also changed my split slightly: I will now be training anterior and side deltoids with chest, and triceps and biceps together.  I am also training arms after back day, rather than before.  So now my split looks like this: Hamstrings, Chest and Shoulders, Quads, Off, Back, Arms, Off.  Days off are variable and I take them whenever, sometimes more often, sometimes less often.

And another thing:  My training partner and I both got sick a few weeks ago and I dropped another 5 pounds or so.  I am now a full 8 pounds lighter than I was on-stage at my last contest--depressing!  BUT, muscularity is an optical illusion as we all know, and getting back into the groove with a weakened body helped my re-assess my training techniques and ultimately helped me improve my form and isolation quite a bit on every body part as well.  And I'm more focused on a lean starting point for February anyways, since I plan to grow into my show quite a bit.

Lastly, there is a chest training video and some other random video clips in the works, so stay tuned!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Benchmark II

Finally got a video shot!

I've lost two pounds since the last one.  Although to be fair, my weight has fluctuated a bit in between--I've been between 153 and 156--not sure what that means since it kinda looks like I'm getting bigger.  Oh well, whatever it is seems to be working!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Drink Your Protein-Infused Cocoa, Peter!

As you might expect, all calories are not created equal--it really does matter which of your favorite neverfoods you're eating--yams, mamee apples, banana squash?  In the same way, protein is not protein "no matter where it comes from."  The "trace" proteins in starches, nuts and dairy are not exactly the same as the proteins from chicken, eggs, beef, pork, and seafood.  While avoiding these proteins is not necessary, or even advisable, it should still be noted that they are not direct substitutes for "real" protein. So while some attention to detail is necessary in ensuring that inordinate amounts of trace proteins are not consumed, thereby altering the total daily intake value, trace proteins can still be a balancing force in the diet and help maintain a positive nitrogen balance, when not relied on for protein alone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Work It, Just Not Too Hard

Tendonitis and tendinosus are two very common symptoms of overuse.  They are slightly different, yet overlapping; meaning that one could very well be misdiagnosed as the other, and vice versa.  In most cases, varying degrees of both would occur in the same individual, even in the same injury.  For most people, these are symptoms of chronic over-use, but for a few, these can simply be the aches and pains associated with a new training regimen.  In untrained individuals, some initial joint pain is to be expected, in addition to the usual delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  When new training elements are introduced, or when a sharp increase in activity occurs, acute tendonitis and tendinosus are common--untrained skeletal muscle and connective tissue exhaust more quickly than trained tissues, so even a daily workout will seem like over-use to a muscle that is accustomed to doing nothing. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Pitfalls

Watch out for these!

1.  The Couple's Slide
You've been training almost every day for an hour or more for the past few months, and not only are you finally seeing some improvement, you met someone too!  Of course you want to spend all your free time with them, and what's one missed workout anyways?  You guys are going out to dinner together all the time too, mostly because you don't live together and it's fun.  Suddenly you're 6 months into the relationship and your boyfriend is starting to comment on your muffin top.  What happened?  It's called the couple's slide, and it is the most prevalent form of "growing together."  It's a form of laziness and affection--but don't be fooled!  It takes a lot of work and thickening of the skin to become training partners, but even just going to the gym together to train separately is better than sitting on the couch cuddling.  Why?  Because you can do that later when the gym is closed!

2.  Complacency
You're a few weeks into your summer diet and it's going really well.  So well in fact, that you're considering easing up on yourself a little.  A few weeks later you haven't made any progress, but at least you're holding steady, right?  Wrong.  Keep going!  Know why there are so few ripped people wandering around the beach?  Because it's a fucking pain in the ass to do, that's why.  This goes for intensity level too.  Don't forget that intensity level should always be re-evaluated--like all values.  

3.  Grading on a Curve
Never compare your progress to others'.  Not only does constant self-evaluation lead to inaccurate perceptions of reality, it also causes a relaxing of standards.  It's not enough to look good "compared to the average person," because let's face it, the average person is a physical train wreck.  Why not be an example of human perfection instead?  Besides, you know that B+ was only a B+ because even the smart kids got their face pwned. 

4.  Peer Pressure
It may sound cheesy, but how many of you haven't had junk food pushed on you by friends or coworkers?  We've all heard it: "Oh come one, you're not going to get fat from just a little bit!" or "Are you sure you can't have any?" or "Wow, you're really neurotic about your food, aren't you?"  Being comfortable with non-participation is important in many aspects of social interaction, but when it comes to diet, training, and other lifestyle choices, it's imperative.  Sticking to your guns isn't hard once you and everyone around you gets used to you refusing the food they offer: they know it's not personal, and most of the time, they will respect you for it.  But really, who cares either way?  There is no one more valuable to you than you!  

Friday, July 06, 2012

Under Pressure

Funny thing about jargon, you only understand it if it's your jargon.  I realize that I throw some phrases out there that are self-explanatory to me, but may be completely indecipherable to everyone else.  Like when a DJ friend asks me about uptempo and I'm like, "Wtf is uptempo?"  Or when my training partner is talking computer stuff with another nerd and all I can hear is, "My computer is really fast and cool--literally!"  It happens in the gym too.  "Mind-muscle connection," "positive nitrogen balance," "working weight."  We all throw these kinds of terms out there and expect others to understand them without explanation.  Maybe we bodybuilders, as a community, are just trying to make it sound more complicated than "Me lift heavy thing!  Me grow strong!"  At any rate, today I will be explaining the time-under-tension principle.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

That Cheating Heart

When it comes to diets--specifically contest prep, but the theme applies generally--there are two basic techniques that are used.  Most diets fall somewhere along this spectrum.  One on hand, you have the "cycling" technique, where two to three moderately low carbohydrate days are cycled with moderately higher carbohydrate days, maintaining a deficit on all days.  This means that even on "high" carb days, the dieter will still be consuming less than what would be required for maintenance.  On the other end of the spectrum, we have the "cheater" style of dieting.  This is a depletion, or "keto," diet.  Ketosis is the term for the physical state in which an individual has high concentrations of ketones in the blood, caused by the body's inability to provide further energy from stored glycogen.  Ketones are produced in the liver during prolonged fasting or starvation.  Ketones combine with the byproducts of beta-oxidation and can then be incorporated into the Krebs cycle, which I discussed briefly here.  Ketones are not restricted by the blood-brain barrier in the same way albumin-bound fatty acids are and so can bring energy to the brain when sugar is not available.  "Ketosis" is used colloquially to describe a "depleted fat-burning" state.  A diet focusing on sustaining a depleted state in order to burn fat would generally also focus on lowering the intake of carbohydrates and maintaining a high calorie deficit for prolonged periods, usually one week.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Muscular Hypertrophy Basics

There are a few basic, mandatory components to muscular hypertrophy.  If you want to get big(ger), you need to at least be aware of them--ideally you should be using them too.  Ever wonder how the people you see at the gym can lift and lift and lift but never really get much bigger?  It's not rocket science or magic--they are simply not employing proper hypertrophy principles.  First we'll go into training principles, then some systemic stuff.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Benchmark I

So far, this has been my best off-season by a long shot.  Hard instead of soft, ripple-y instead of smooth: it's fantastic!  But it's time to start thinking about my next competition, and when your cutting phase is going to be a grueling 5 month sojourn, it's important to start the building phase much, much earlier than that.

The plan:
From now until my prep starts in late February/early March, I will be following a primarily high fat-low protein-moderate carb approach.  I find this yields the best results in terms of both muscular hypertrophy and fat elimination.  My current intake (calculated based on my macro profile, not including trace amounts or random overages) is right around 1,900 calories.  When all is said and done, it is probably closer to 2,000.  And yes, I do get pretty hungry between meals--a planned weekly or every-ten-days cheat meal is normally included.  Some weeks, my training partner and I go out to breakfast, others it's as little as a few hundred extra calories.  At this point, whatever gives me the feeling of not being ultra-depleted from week to week is sufficient to keep me going.

Macro-nutrient profile: 25/15/15 (carbs/fat/protein respectively)
Current weight: 154

Following this, I will be doing a 20 week prep for the 2013 USA Championships in Las Vegas (late July).  You might be thinking, "Girl, you are not going to be competitive on a national stage that soon," and you might be right.  But if I can qualify for it in late spring, it's only another six or eight weeks to the USA's, and at that point, you might as well, amirite?

"Starting point" posing vid:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Remedial Endocrinology, Part II

For Part I of this series, read this.  Continuing from where I left off (sort of)...

To the layperson, estrogen and testosterone are mutually exclusive opposing forces.  One, estrogen, is present in the female body and causes things like boobs, emotionality and over-sensitivity, menstruation, and other delights.  The other, testosterone, is present in the male body and causes things like muscles, anger and aggression, hair, and a faster metabolism.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?  Although testosterone and estrogen are indeed steroid hormones and therefore largely responsible for the development of gender-specific traits, you might be surprised to find out that they are both crucial in muscle growth and that both men and women need them.  The problem that arises from misinformation regarding the necessity of both hormones is usually linked to attempts at manipulation.  The general thought here is "More testosterone is always better, period."  This is not entirely true.

HIT It Hard for Summer

Yes, I've beaten the high intensity horse quite a bit, but there is still a lot of confusion out there about it, so I'm going to keep beating.  I've also seen quite a few videos (like when I check the channels of my subscribers) regarding "changing things up" and "trying something new and radical" in order to get the results that haven't been achieved using other methods.  There are a few issues that will prevent the "shaking it up" from working super well in most cases and I'll talk about those in a minute.  But ultimately, HIT absolutely works!  If it's not working, you're not doing it right!  There's a reason most huge bodybuilders gravitate towards the same type of training in the end--if you look at the splits, rep ranges, and general training principles being used by most pros, you will see that they are largely the same.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Posing for ME

I am having so much fun with this whole YouTube thing.

It's all zoomed out and stuff and my upper body is cold (Jordan!), but apparently Rick thinks I look great...and that I'm posing for him :)

I'm planning on qualifying for and competing at the USA's in Vegas in 64 weeks.  Thoughts?

Saturday, May 05, 2012


This really sucks! 

The Beastie Boys are a legendary group; all their work is fucking solid (musically, lyrically, colloquially), and their body of work is impressive to say the least.  Their final (?) album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, is magical.  With the tragically untimely death of Adam Yauch, a great artist is lost forever.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Femme Muscle Apparel

So, for a couple years now I've been making all my own workout shirts.  Regular shirts fit me so terribly that I don't end up wearing them, "wicking" fabrics chafe like a bitch, and "real" t-backs are virtually non-existent for females ("racerbacks" are so high-cut these days that it's impossible to wear them if you're built).  Ultimately I gave up on the mainstream market and decided to get good at making that shit myself.  Being a little bit on the sassy side, and also having some experience with "screen printing," I thought the next logical conclusion would be to put cool stuff on the front too.  I use the term "screen printing" pretty loosely: I'm not using a screen or a machine of any kind.  More like a piece of paper, an Xacto knife and fabric paint.  I'm not sure if people know I make my own shirts; maybe you can tell they're homemade, maybe not.  Either way and long-story short, I've made some for friends and now I'm accepting orders from the general public as well!  Tell yo friends!  

eCrater was not my first choice as far as online marketplaces go, but Etsy charges per listing per month and not knowing what my order traffic was going to be like, it seemed prudent to go with the one that was free.  So for now, you can get FM schwag here.

Here are a few of my fave prints that I've done.

Arms Race

Biceps training video!

Subscribe, follow, like, share, repeat!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Never Do It!

There's "lack of ettiquette," and then there's the casually rude things people do out of ignorance.  Here are a few dick moves to avoid.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Going HAM

"I like the way the seam runs up the back of the stocking..."  Yeah, me too.  But what David Lee Roth should have said after that is: "especially when it has to take the long way--cuz she's got such monstrous hamstrings!" :P

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Finally!  (I wrote this post like a month and a half ago...)  Here it is, my leg training how-to!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pump It Up

I've kinda talked about pumps before, but let's go into a little more detail this time.  

Firstly, what is a "pump"?  Many individuals can train for months or years before experiencing one.  Seasoned lifters can grow so accustomed to them that the pumps themselves go largely unnoticed.  But what the hell is it?  Mechanically, the "pump" is a profusion of blood in the target muscle caused by the body's natural reaction to muscular contractions.  In addition to cleaning up the cell damage caused by catabolism, your body is also constantly replenishing ATP stores in order to power your muscles.  This causes a major influx of blood to the target muscle, creating mild congestion, e.g. swelling, slight numbness and tingling, as well as a slightly engorged appearance.

Muscular contractions (such as those performed during weight training) originate as conscious effort from the brain.  Basically, an electrical charge innervates the muscle fibers, causing a cascade of effects which ultimately leads to a contraction.  Within each innervated muscle fiber are myofibrils surrounded by sarcoplasm--a calcium rich plasma--within each myofibril are thin filaments formed by actin and myosin.  The electrical impulse from your brain depolarizes the inner portion of the muscle fiber, activating voltage-gated calcium channels which react with calcium-release channels.  These channels react with the sarcoplasmic reticulum (an organelle regulating calcium concentrations in the muscle), allowing the release of calcium, which binds to the actin containing filaments.  This in turn allows a modulation of proteins along the actin chain, allowing the previously blocked myosin filaments to bind to the actin filaments.  In the absence of calcium, this is not possible.  This binding pulls the bands together, resulting in contractile force.  Then, ATP (remember this guy?) binds to the myosin, weakening its binding state to actin and thereby releasing it--resulting in a relaxation of the muscle fibers.

So during muscular contractions, your body is required to replenish oxygen and ATP, as well as remove waste--all of which are done through the bloodstream.  So why have some people not experienced a "pump"?  Muscular contractions are not all equal.  The complete activation of all muscle fibers will require more bloodflow than a contraction where only some fibers are activated.  In a muscle where overload is not being experienced, there will also be less demand for blood.  This is why people who train light or people who don't train well will often go pump-less.  Once again, this is why isolation, overload, and proper form are absolutely necessary.  

How important is a pump in muscular hypertrophy?  There is absolutely no evidence to indicate that muscular pumps in any way correlate directly with growth.  Meaning, just because your quads got hella pumped,  you may not have initiated hella adaptive response (on a strictly acute basis).  Ya feel me?  However, muscular pumps are an excellent indicator of isolation and should definitely be sought in each workout, and are highly effective as a long-term benchmarking tool as well.  It goes without saying that fully activating each muscle--each fiber--will absolutely net you greater gains.  In many cases, this will result in a ridiculous pump as well.  In my personal experience, pumps are a thing of practice and effort; recognizing the sensation aids in isolation and also acts as a reminder to continually improve form.  I also find that those who do not use a HIT approach will have a harder time getting and maintaining pumps (this was me when I first started). 

Additionally, there are some who feel the stretching aspect of a pump to be a desired effect in and of itself.  These folks argue that the fascia (the sheath surrounding your muscle) becomes stretched as the muscle becomes more and more pumped, or engorged with blood.  This is the basis for Fascia Stretch Training-7 (FST-7).  This program involves doing 7 sets per exercise, usually 2-3 sets performed progressively heavier, followed by the remaining sets performed progressively lighter and also in a more rapid succession.  Arguably, this maximizes the pump in the target muscle, literally stretching the fascia by packing more and more blood into the muscle.  The argued benefit from FST-7 is basically that by stretching the fascia out, you are allowing for additional muscle volume to be present.  I've used this in the past as a sort of modified "drop-set," but it's a take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt type thing like everything else.

Muscular pumps can be enhanced by nitric oxide products, i.e. SuperPump, Jack3d, etc.  For my review of NO products, read this.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eat to Shrink III

Part I can be read here, Part II is over here..  Now on to the exercise portion.

No one can diet for long and keep losing weight without exercising as well.  What you do to burn calories is up to you; however, I highly advocate at least a three day per week weight lifting regimen in addition to your regular cardio.  I recommend this for two reasons: muscle burns energy more efficiently than fatty tissue, and weight training strengthens bones and connective tissue--vital for longevity and long-term health.  Adding some muscle to your frame will definitely help you look more toned as well.  BUT the body is a SYSTEMIC organism—spot reduction, i.e. burning fat off a particular area by training the muscles in that area DOES NOT WORK!  You can build muscle in a certain area and the muscles will push through the fat layer more, creating the look of more definition, but the fat will remain the same unless you lose it systemically.   

Eat to Shrink II

Part I of this series can be viewed here.

Now we have a general idea of how much to eat, but what do we eat?  I advocate simple foods such as chicken breast, brown rice, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes and fruit as staples that can be prepared ahead of time and act as a framework for clean eating.  Using food exchanges and “common meals,” as well as having food that is already prepared, will not only make the transition easier but also head off “desperation cheat meals”—why cheat when there’s diet-approved food in the fridge and all you have to do is assemble the meal?

Eat to Shrink

The next few posts are made up of selected portions of a dieting guide I originally wrote two years ago for a fatty friend of mine who never ended up reading it.  Do yourself a favor and don't repeat her mistake.  The guide itself has been edited and altered as necessary over the years to reflect more accurate information as it comes to my attention.  I've broken it into a few posts so you don't succumb to information overload.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dead Like Me

So in my last post, I explained how training too heavy can impact range of motion (ROM) and rep ranges.  Basically, if you can't do more than one rep, or you can do 6 reps but they're all partials--you are training way too heavy!  But training too heavy also impacts form, and form is possibly even more important to pay attention to, especially in those areas where people are tempted by setting personal records for themselves, i.e. Olympic lifts such as deadlifts, cleans, etc.  Ever wonder why you never see people doing PR's on biceps curls?  You're probably thinking "It would be pointless to do that on biceps curls."  Well, it's just as pointless to do it with any other exercise also--the logic is the same in either case.  Deadlifts are a great strengthener for hips, lower back, core, and legs--but they must be performed for reps and they must be performed perfectly!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tiny Repping = Not So Tiny Failing

One of the biggest crimes people commit against their bodies, in the gym anyways, is performing exercises with too much weight.  Most commonly, this leads to form breaking down and non-performance of full repetitions, or tiny repping.  Although I've espoused the benefits of heavy weight training many, many times, it is important to note that "heavy training" and "training with a lot of weight" are not necessarily the same thing--in fact, they are often not.  The weight used during training is only one aspect of the overload as perceived by your muscles--making the exercise more difficult, i.e. making the exercise feel heavier, can also be done by improving form, increasing the number of reps performed, and most importantly, using a full range of motion.  In many cases this requires a significant reduction in weight.  There are other techniques for increasing difficulty as well, such as pre-exhaustion, but those are pointless if you can't do the elementary stuff.  

Saturday, April 07, 2012

GoPro or Go Low?

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started bodybuilding was eating way too much protein.  High protein is one of those things in bodybuilding that no matter how much you argue against it, people will never listen until they do it themselves--myself included.  Protein is definitely a necessity, don't get me wrong, but overdoing it is not as beneficial, or even as harmless, as most would believe it to be.  While bloodwork can show the negative biological effects of excess protein, I believe the straight-up better results from a lower protein diet speak for themselves.  And we can all smell the meatheads who are overdoing it, amirite?  High protein definitely contributes to some really nasty gym farts sooo, take it easy brah!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Roid Rage! (or Remedial Endocrinology, Part I)

There is a lot of misinformation out there in the bodybuilding world.  I like to call it bro-logic.  It's the dumb one-liners you hear brobros telling each other in the gym; toolbags passing misinformation back and forth like a venereal disease (believe me, it's that bad).  Things like "repping out is 12 reps, dude," or "yeah bro, let's do another set--you're hella strong!" after a set of all forced reps.  Sigh.  This is why I listen to EDM so loud at the gym--I have to in order to drown out the retardation.

Oftentimes, the most dangerous, pervasive, and completely-off-base bro-logic centers around human endocrinology--you know, hormones and stuff.  Because of the ultra-obvious elephant in the gym, many do not bother educating themselves enough about managing and manipulating the body's natural hormonal responses to training, diet, and other external and internal stimuli.  Welcome to remedial endocrinology!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We're All Just Animals Anyway

Something very near and dear to me is proper animal husbandry.  I have a super special little girl, Penelope, who I am lucky enough to be taking care of, and she has taught me about proper doggie care and proper doggie love.  Here are some of Penelope's tips for happy, long-lived pets (I use the word dog throughout simply because that is my reference point, this post obviously applies to most sentient species).

1.  Understand the Value of Life (Don't Be a Speciesist)
The most pervasive attitude towards animals is that they are "just animals."  Without getting too far into why I think this is the case, let's just say that an incorrect assumption about human superiority is the root of the problem.  When you remove the "specialness" of human life, you are forced to appreciate ALL life.  Dogs are not worth less than humans because they are dogs--there is nothing inherently less valuable about a life-form that cannot articulate itself, is there?  A dog is just like a human with arrested development--they're both a little retarded in their communication and their habits and their myopia, but they still have worth as individuals.    You have to help your dog and your mentally disabled uncle go to the bathroom and neither devalues the individual you're helping.  Now let me just say there are dumb dogs the same way there are dumb humans--but the intelligent, complex individuals are still out there in either species, and those individuals impart value to the rest.

2.  Understand the Finality of Life (Don't Be An Idiot)
A crucial part of properly valuing life is understanding that you only get one.  The finality and certainty of death impart even more meaning onto our time and this carries over to our pets.  Pets are burdened with even shorter lives than ours, especially dogs.  Dogs have it really rough.  Did you know that ducks can average 20 years?  Wtf ducks?  When your life is closing in on 5 times the length of your companion, it is your responsibility to make their lives as special as possible.  What possible excuse could you have?  You have five times more time on this earth than they do; there is nothing you don't have time to do for them.  

3.  New Traditions (Play Every Day)
Dogs love traditions, especially traditions they share with you.  Creating new adventures and revisiting old ones is one of the easiest ways to bring your pet joy.  Engage with your pet during these activities: talk with them, play with them--don't just take them for a walk, tell them about the walk, get them excited, make it fun, experience it together.  The shared experience is often more important to them than the activity itself and you will both get more out of it when you engage with your friend.

4.  Proper Food (Healthy Dogs Live Longer)
This is so important, but unless you understand the parts of your pet that you can only take care of emotionally and psychologically, the parts you can take care of physically won't mean much to you either--because it's still just a dog, right?  And if you're one of those people who loves their dog but feeds them shitty dogfood anyway, you fall into this category too, because somewhere deep down, you still feel like they don't matter quite as much.  When you decide to snap out of it, the first thing you should do is eliminate corn and grain products from your pet's normal food.  This means stop feeding him or her Purina, Beneful, and all those other poisons--even that shit they sell at Costco.  "Salmon meal," "chicken meal," "corn meal," "rye flour," "corn syrup"--these are things your dog food should not include.  The first ingredients, or dare I say, all the ingredients? should be whole food ingredients.  Your dog should be on an almost all-protein diet.  Check out Orijen and Evo--they both have full lines of cat and dog food that are acceptable sustenance.  There are also raw food diet suppliers such as Meg's Meats in Truckee.  Don't be that person crying about their dog going blind and lame when you could have prevented it (the corn does this as is shuts the kidneys down).    

5.  Proper Exercise (Don't Over or Under-Do It)
Imagine if your dog didn't have to live inside with you: he or she would be running around all day doing survival stuff.  So obviously you should give your pet some kind of exercise each day.  For us, because Penelope loves frisbee or tennis ball fetch, it's super easy to work her out and give her something she loves. I know a lot of you probably hike with your pets so I specifically wanted to pass along some wisdom we received from our vet recently: shorter, more intense bouts of activity, i.e. 20 minutes of running or fetch, are less wear and tear on the dog's joints than long, low intensity exercise, i.e. hours of hiking or walking.  If your pet is having trouble walking the next day or has significant, or even insignificant chronic soreness, you are overworking him or her and causing permanent joint damage and recovery problems.  I know it seems counterintuitive to not take a dog for a long hike, but dogs are not developed (muscularly) the way they would have been if they were living in the wild, therefore, their systems cannot handle what would have, in that case, been commonplace for them (hours of running/walking/trotting).  If you are an avid hiker or backcountry skier, please consider your pet's longevity and long-term joint health before taking them out for three hours of postholing in crusty snow (JP I'm looking at you!).  On that note, during the winter, running in deep snow and/or snow that is frozen on top is extremely detrimental to your dog's knees and ankles and can hasten the onset of chronic arthritis.  It can also cause flattening and scarring of the patellas--which results in chronic pain and difficulty for your pet, and eventually surgery.  Ward your pet's bodies the same way you would your own, and understand that like a small child, they cannot withstand the torment you can.  Watch out for downhill running, i.e. down to the beach or the bottom of the mountain; uneven surfaces and obstacles, i.e. crusty melted snow or rocky shorelines; and overworking.

6. Avoid Neutering and Spaying (Don't Mess With Stuff You Don't Understand)
Just like humans, dogs' endocrine systems are a delicate balance of biological signals, and removing an entire component is extremely detrimental to their both their health and mental well-being.  A lot of people spay or neuter because it "calms the animal down"--so would chopping of one of their legs, but we don't run around doing that now, do we?  It would be another matter entirely if it were vasectomy instead of castration, or tubal ligation instead of radical hysterectomy, but removal of the sex organ in its entirety results in a cascade of internal effects that are terrible for your pet!  Lethargy, weight-gain, and depression are all commonplace with neutering and spaying and the long term biological effects of not allowing the dog to fully develop are also tragic.

The most important thing is to love each other and have fun!  

It's hard work being Penelope

Twice a year, toys become puppies and get
carried everywhere, even into her chair

Penelope and her possible future boyfriend Fallon (with the collar)

So happy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blueprints: Summer 2012

Starting in mid April or early May I'm changing everything up!  Time to hit 170 and get peeled :)  Here's my plan:

Up the intensity:
Remember that post I did about doing one crazy thing in each workout?  Well, turns out that doing that one thing doesn't work very well with my twice a week training style LOL.  So in a few weeks (like seven or eight), I'm going to drop the second workout, go back to a stricter HIT approach, and add the crazy stuff.  Since I will be training each bodypart only once per week, I will be able to apply progressive resistance more effectively and increase my poundages more frequently as well (hopefully).

Up the calories:
In order to increase my intensity as described above, I'm going to have to increase my caloric intake too.  I'm pretty much on cruise control right now and because I've been making improvements, I am going to stick with my current intake for another 7-8 weeks in order to drop a little more bodyfat before I start trying to grow again.  When I do start "bulking," my first move will be adding a few grams of protein and maybe 5 grams of fat to each meal.  As I've said many times, fat is more conducive to growth and fat burning than carbohydrates.  In my personal experience, adding carbs in the off season almost always results in unwanted fat gain.  Personally, the growth associated with massive carb overdose is not worth the fat gain that comes with it--you end up losing a lot of that "bonus" mass when you are forced to diet away the "bonus" fat.

Start doing aerobics:
I know what you're thinking: Jazzercise in neon spandex leotards and scrunch socks--I wish!  Unfortunately I'll probably just be grinding out 20 minutes on the elliptical machine or 20 minutes of jogging after work--dressed normally :(  Because of the simultaneous increase in calories, I should be able to do cardio without negative growth effects.  On the contrary, evidence showing cardiovascular exercise to be a significant influence on skeletal muscle growth is certainly out there.  The cardio should also help keep me it tight while I "bulk."

Start looking at comps:
The future of female bodybuilding is in no way secure.  Unfortunately, because of the general public's perception of female muscularity, new categories have been repeatedly introduced in attempts to feminize and "tone down" bodybuilding and more recently, replace it.  Don't get me started on figure and bikini :/  At any rate, female bodybuilding might not exist anymore by the time I want to compete again--at least not at the smaller events.  My perfect plan was to compete at the Nevada State in Reno in early June and continue my prep for another 8 weeks and compete at the USA National competition in Las Vegas in late July.  The Nevada State did not offer female bodybuilding this year, so I may have to find another qualifier.  But the general plan is still to hit a national stage in 2013.

Benchmark pics coming soon!

One of the dumbest things ever

This woman...

sharing her prize money with this woman.


And just FYI, the prizes for male bodybuilding are not split between the different categories: the male bodybuilding winner takes home the full $200K.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

No. 9 // Baby Got Back

Thanks to a runner friend of mine who posted a link on facebook, I recently read an article describing eight ways to get out of a funk (the post was running-related but it works for pretty much everything else too).  Motivation to train hard consistently usually isn't a problem, but I did find that I was more motivated to continue my blog and video projects after skimming the article in question.  Of course there were the usual "change your playlist," and "run with a friend" tips, but also a few more nuanced perspectives that could use some remembering from time to time, such as "it's ok not to run (or not do whatever it is you do)," "less is more," and that thing about not just setting small goals but also creating a more pervasive mindset that embodies something larger than any one achievement.  This one in particular struck home with me.  I often find myself making small, short-term goals or plans as a way to stay de-funkified--especially in the off-season--and this not only stresses me out, but it also causes me to become myopic and distracted from enjoying my life.  Constantly looking forward to something, or constantly thinking about some random goal can be a very easy way to lose out on a lot of precious moments.  Creating a goal that is larger than any one thing can help off-set this; it can also help you keep a healthy perspective on how far you've come when you are in it for the long haul and have a lot of hauling left to do.

Thank You, Chris Aceto

One of the biggest mistakes I made with my diet early on, and even somewhat recently, is eating too much protein.  Sounds weird coming from a bodybuilder, right?  In fact, many high level bodybuilders advocate(d) low protein too: Dorian Yates ate "low protein" during his reign as Mr. Olympia (6 yrs in a row, plus he's arguably the best of all time), and Chris Aceto, nutritionist and prep guru to athletes such as Ronnie Coleman, Kim Chivesky (I can't wait to look like her! :D), Jay Cutler, Mike Francois and others, also advocates low protein.  Chris is fairly well known in the bodybuilding community, and he's considered one of the major "diet gurus," along with Charles Glass, Hany Rambod, George Farah, etc.  His approach is particularly interesting because of the intense focus on low protein diet compositions.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kick Out the Epic Pt. 2

The worst thing possible happened to me at the gym today.  My iPod ran out of battery and my backup was sitting innocently on my desk at home.  Nooo!  The experience reminded me that I don't actually need music to push hard or focus in the gym, which is good.  But I do really love it.  So, in no particular order:

And you can't talk about EDM without at least mentioning this, because I haven't heard the end of it since we watched this episode (and I explained it).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Big is NOT Beautiful

This post might make you think I have a superiority complex about being in good shape.  I do.  I hella do.

The culture of acceptance being created around obesity absolutely disgusts me.  I can't believe that we are, as a civilization, supporting people being fat.  In the real world, these people would never survive.  The choice would be to get healthy or get buried--literally.  Fatties would get hunted down by predators because they are too slow; they would be more likely to die from disease and illness because their immune systems are suppressed; they would be ostracized from their communities for taking more than their share of the hunt and not contributing enough to the welfare of the group.  I'm sick of hearing "big is beautiful, or "I'm a real woman,"  or "it's what's on the inside that counts."  Well, whatever's on the inside has a serious flaw too if you think that being a walking diabetes brochure is acceptable behavior.  Why are people so polite to fatties? My health insurance premiums are being affected by the burden of life-extending care for these lazy a-holes (who should be allowed to choke themselves with their neck fat in peace).  I should at least get to heckle them with rotten fruit and lettuce.  Bring back the stocks!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

State of Nature

You may be able to see in color, hear in stereo and solve long division in your head, but your body is as unaware of its surroundings as that house plant you can't quite kill or keep alive.  Do you think that because you wear shoes your feet know they aren't touching the ground?  You think because you sit down at a table to eat with a fork and knife your body digests meat any differently than it did 10,000 years ago when you killed it yourself?  You think your muscles know they're lifting steel plates off a stack instead of repairing your shelter or killing prey? You think that's air you're breathing?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mastery +50

So in WoW, mastery can be a totally awesome stat, or a really bad one, depending on what and how you play.  For example, an Arms warrior specializing in Player versus Player would def want to have a bunch of mastery on their gear.  That same warrior specializing in Player versus Environment (player versus computer basically) would not want any.  But IRL, mastery is always awesome.  I had an epiphany about it today...

Get Freqy

Part one and two of this discussion involved training splits and training intensity.  The next piece of the puzzle is training frequency!

Training frequency affects everyone, and it affects every part of your training regimen.  Train too often and you will fall victim to chronic overtraining, tendonitis and tendonosis, and fatigue.  Last week I discussed the impacts and benefits of high intensity training, but training frequency necessarily limits your intensity level too--you can only train at max intensity for so long.  We've all gone too hard and suffered the consequences at some point.

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Video!

Upperbody smackdown mashup vid:

Thanks Jordan!!!

More videos coming: posing, diet, legs (you will cry), and eventually some dedicated training videos so you guys can see what I do for each bodypart.  My channel needs subscribers, ready go!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Epic Fail

Perhaps one of the most overlooked, yet vital, aspects of training, especially weight training, is training intensity.  This is one of the areas that can be the most difficult to progress in, yet yields the greatest returns.  It's also one of the most misunderstood aspects of weight training.  It's not enough to just train each muscle--it's not even enough to train each muscle well--you have to train each muscle intensely.  Harnessing and improving your training intensity is easily the most effective way to get consistent improvements, period.  

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Splitting the Difference

Recently my training partner and I had a little discussion.  It went from pre-exhaustion theories to training splits to bio-mechanics.  Example: you'd think that pre-exhausting the biceps before a back workout would be a good way to help isolation, but I don't use that technique, do you?  Or training back and biceps together: makes sense and a lot of people do it, but I never do.  Why not?  

Monday, February 06, 2012

Kick Out the Epic

This is what's been getting me going lately.  In the gym, I mean!  Gees...

And also this sexy mix chopped into a few pieces with Audacity. 13:40 through 20:40 is particularly epic, it is quite LITERALLY the best version of Bromance I have EVER heard.  Watch Parks and Recreation, Rob Lowe is hilarious.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

FM Reviews NO

I get a lot of questions.  The more I look like I know what I'm doing, the more people seem to be interested in what I'm doing.  One of the most common questions is "Have you ever tried ...?"  Since I started bodybuilding four years ago, I've done a lot of shopping around supplements-wise, so the answer is usually yes.  Here are a few products that get the FM stamp of approval, plus a lengthy informational intro on this genre of supplements.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Sneak Peek

Here's a video featuring a little sneak peek of the upcoming footage I'm putting together!  A BIG thank you to my friend and co-bodybuilder, Jordan Cronin, who is filming and editing the whole thing and basically doing me a huge favor.  Thanks, Jordan!  He rocks :)  This is his update on his current competition plans and a short clip from his biceps workout, plus a sneak peek of me doing extensions--more soon!

You can see more of Jordan's videos here.