BodyWorks: Just Get Fit.

Eat The Whole Thing.

When I look back on my competitive days and contemplate the truckloads of egg yolks that have slithered down the over-clogged drains in my life, the mountains of tasteless namby-pamby egg-white omelettes that I’ve scarfed down in accordance with the belief systems of The Cult Of The Low Fat, I could cry, I could just cry.

The wasted opportunities! What the hell was I thinking?

Well, what the hell I was thinking at the time was the exact same thing that every other bodybuilder that I knew worth his salt thought at the time:

Fat is bad-> egg yolks are mostly fat-> egg yolks are bad-> get rid of the yolks!

We all believed, in those days, that we really were on the cutting edge of nutritional science and that all those ridiculous whole-egg eaters were just ignorant dumbbells who were going to get fat, stay fat and die fat.

We were the ignorant dumbbells.

It was us who carefully threw away money, we who carefully wasted resources and needlessly deprived our bodies of some useful nutrients.

Why?

Because of the enigmatic power of of those two popular verities: “what everyone knows” & “commonly known facts”.

You have to sometimes stop and ask yourself, how does everyone so effortlessly find these facts out and seem to know so much about them?

I suppose the lesson to be learned here is the clear, cold observation that what everybody knows, isn’t usually very much or very accurate.

Here is a short list of some of the nutrients that are wasted when you lose the yolk of an egg:

  • yolk proteins – ovalbumin, ovotranserin, ovucoid, ovomucin, lysozyme, as well as ovoinhibitor, vomacroglobulin, ovomacroglobulin and avidin have antibacterial activity and antihypertensive, immunomodulating, antiadhesive (=interferes with a key step of inflammation), antitumor, and antiviral activities (to find out what does what, check out Table 2from Kovacs-Nolan. 2005);
  • immunoglobulins – specifically immunoglobolin Y from egg yolk which has been shown to have antibacterial activity, antiviral activity, can reduce the incidence of dental caries, is used in anti-venoms, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and serves as a carrier for anti-cancer drugs (Mine. 2004);
  • other components of the yolk – including phosvitin, sialyloligosaccharides and sialylglycopeptides, as well as the yolk lipids, lipoproteins, fatty acids, and cholesterol have scientifically proven antioxidant and antibacterial activities, as well (Kovacs-Nolan. 2005).

I guess the message is loud and clear:

Nature is usually an honest saleswoman. She offers you the whole package, bells and whistles included, in the price; the mindlessly toying around with her many bountiful things often fails to improve them.

At least, when it comes to eggs.

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I Want To Do Some Bodybuilding. Are Supplements Really Necessary?

Uh-uh.

A hammer isn’t absolutely necessary for driving in a nail, but it’s helpful.

You might also use a wrench, a nearby rock or mum’s prized rainbow begonia to do the job…with various utility outcomes.

But you know, a hammer sure does work a treat when it comes to a pesky tenpenny nail needing to be planted solidly into that piece of 2-by-4. It’s actually what it was designed for.

Therefore broad questions like yours have to be satisfied with broad and general answers like mine.

So, what are supplements really?

Basically, they’re tools, not the finished job. And like all tools, they can be handled with or without the tacit knowledge required to make them work to their full potential for a given task.

The problem seems to be ignorance. Just good, old fashioned ignorance & greed. Greedy vendors selling otherwise useful supplements in dishonest and bogus ways to a naive and gullible consumer base who won’t take the time or make the effort to try to match expectations to goals and learn how to choose or use the right tools properly.

And then, of course, that consumer base tends to get upset when they’ve spent their $5 and don’t magically transform into Arnold overnight…as promised by the guy with a fake tan and bleached white teeth. The general public become disillusioned & cynical. Which is understandable, but avoidable as long as they don’t expect the hammer that they buy to fly them VIP over to Disneyland.

So, to take the analogy a little further, although the right tools for a particular job don’t, in themselves, ensure a predictable outcome (genetics, experience, knowledge, skill and luck also have something to do with successful results) they increase the opportunities & chances for success.

In short, for the average Joe (or Jane) who is lucky enough to be under 30, doesn’t really push it in the gym or on the track, is not particularly interested in excelling in a chosen sport or activity and possesses reasonably gifted genetics along with rather random expectations…a well thought out diet should suffice.

For the rest of us, the ruthlessly-optimistic-steely-eyed-overachiever types who only occasionally have time to shop and meal prep? Those OCD individuals, who want more than anything, to get up on stage in their bathing suits and hold the rapt attention of thousands of people for more than 5 seconds?

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Match the choice of tool to the job that needs doing.

Training In The Gym: What Are The Most Neglected Muscles?

In physique competition parlance, back in The Day when there was a little more attention paid to the principles of aesthetics, symmetry & balance as well as mass and size, these were the incidentals.

Called incidental, with some tomgue-in-cheek irony aimed at the civilians, punters and hicks (anyone who wasn’t a real bodybuilder) who never really seemed to notice these muscles, let alone waste much time directly training them.

  • Calves: gastrocnemius, soleus & particularly the tibialis;
  • Abs (everyone knows a 6-pack, but how about the rest?): Obliques, intercostals & serratus;
  • Forearms: brachialradialis and all the other little pronators and supinators;
  • Neck: platysma & sternocleodmastoid muscles.

Which is Best: Flat or Incline Bench Press for Pec Development?

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The answer is as OldSkool as it is short & sweet—Flat Bench Press.

As the angle of incline increases, less and less of the major pectoral muscles are used and increasingly the burden of the lift falls on other muscles like the triceps, delts, supraspinatus, trees, rhomboids, etc.

These two exercises are essentially different versions of each other.How different? This will really depend on the angle of the incline used.

Be aware, more excitement is in the air as, in effect, there are a whole spectrum of angles available to you for your lifting pleasure here. Every time you change an angle, you change the emphasis of the exercise on muscle groups and the previous exercise morphs into another exercise that will influence either different muscles or perhaps different parts of the same muscle group.

A simple pressing motion possesses the potential to produce a cornucopia of potential movements. Voila, it’s Christmas! Your gift is a Swiss Army knife and multitool for bodybuilders.

You can also change the way the fundamental drivers interact by switching back and forth from barbell to dumbbell configurations.

The take-home on this is as follows:

The lifting of weights is not a passive hoary old tradition steeped in myth and superstition, it is a dynamic and fluid activity of aggression and imagination.

My Friends tell me that, after a certain age, it is pointless to try to maintain muscle mass, let alone gain it. Fact or fiction?

Getting old ain’t for sissies. Bette Davis

Oh, really? What age would that be, then?

Here is the kind of question that strikes a deep, darkly dissonant cord somewhere deep within me, along with delivering a cold, sharp silver of terror to my heart.

It’s a myth.

A myth based on stubborn rationalisation and the inherent laziness of a large majority of the human population. It is just a garden variety pessimistic fatalism just mixed in with some good old fashioned pig ignorant stupidity. It’s bollocks on a stick.

Boy oh boy, are there boucoup people out there looking for sorry excuses to fail, or worse…easy reasons profound enough sounding so that they don’t even need to try. So, I suppose that not being 20 years old is as good as any of the others.

I want to use the question to address in a more general way the commonly held but mistaken belief in a supposed law which goes something like : when you reach a certain number of years all progress halts, growth stops and it becomes time to throw your hands up and call it quits as life is no longer worth the investment…it is so done with you. This broad comment will also, of course,  include the question of maintaining and increasing muscle mass as you age, because muscle is intimately involved in ameliorating possible age related functional decline.

I am not going to go about prettying up my reply with the scientific method. Do not expect me to furnish studies and proofs of research here.

My point of view is grounded in the simple experiences of a long and eventful life where vast quantities of iron have been pumped and many physical injuries overcome. I have soon gotten past the pathetic emotion of feeling sorry for myself at the unfairness of it all, of the shocking fact of recently hitting 60 (I’ve been bodybuilding pretty much nonstop since 18). Afterwards, I took close inventory of the state of my physical characteristics, attributes, damage, strengths and weaknesses. While certainly not ideal, I appear to be rather better off than expected at arriving at an age with such a big number clinging on to it.

Popular culture does the standard sign-off with regard to old people. Basically, they are under contract to give up their youth and beauty in return for experience, wisdom and perhaps, if they are lucky, some sort of financial recompense and comfort. They are then further obligated to slowly and painfully serve out the short remainder of whatever is leftover of their miserable lives as sick, fat, ugly, decrepit, asexual, annoying , wrinkled, fossilized bags of wind, piss & vinegar blindly plodding through vast stretches of dark bleakness toward the certain sentence of a doom of no consequence.

My opinion? Uhm, screw that, a sucker is born every minute, this is not a fair trade.  I’ll just take a miss on that offer, thanks. Hopefully, the photo supplied above goes a fair way as proof of this refusal to accept the status quo. But otherwise, I still wake up every day and renew my refusal of the trade proposal. I don’t expect to grow old gracefully, I wasn’t all that graceful in my youth.

It is certainly true that the aging process increases the risk of age related disease, inflammation and conditions of decline. Things like sarcopenia, degenerative disc disease and arthritis are all too common paybacks for a strenuous life of activity and risk. To not take these issues as matters of grave concern and food for creative thought is the careless partaking of the mission in question as a fool. One is always urged to exercise good common sense and pay attention to reality based experiential and scientifically proven fact when dealing with the necessary undertakings of a long and fruitful life.

Yes, of course you might one day not be able to make a move from that antique rocking chair waiting for you out there for you on the veranda in the winter of your dishearteningly short number of years on this planet without emitting some sort of ridiculous click, creak, fart, groan, shriek or worse. But so what? That day is still a ways away.

But if you exercise both your brain and spirit as well as your body, if you take care in what you eat (maintain a high protein Mediterranean type of diet along with the right mix of other supplements & nutrients), adjust and modify your lifestyle, maintain an attitude of relentless flexibility and unflagging resiliency, that day will not be today or tomorrow…and with any luck…no time soon.

Lift Heavy Or Go Light?

Give me a minute or two of your time and allow me to explain, as what seems like a simple question, really isn’t.

There are big guys who lift heavy

And there are big guys who lift light;

Some little guys lift lots of weight

The ones left over lift light.

It all seems so confusing

Who is right?

Well, we all want to get big, so it’s obviously the big guys who got it right, right?

Let me begin by first bringing out my old whipping boy, The Gene Cardto deal with a question of this sort. Why mention genes? Because it is always refreshing to know just why we are, in fact, all different. I like to pull out the genetic explanation for everything; it’s handy, as well as being true. Genes are almostDestiny, yeah but just not quite.

Some of us respond remarkably well to hard, heavy weights with lots of rest in between sets, for example 4–10 reps/set, 6–9 sets per body part.

Others respond to hard, quick tempo, high volume of a 20–30 rep/set 15–30 sets/body part range andrequire much less weight to achieve maximal training effect.

If “one man’s meat, is another’s poison”applies to anything, it applies in a particularly impactful manner to the pumping of iron.

The answer to the question of what the best method of lifting for youis will quite likely depend on certain combinations of your genes and the protein factors that they express.

Yes, many things in life do seem to be a lottery ticket or a crapshoot, but not everything. Some things are hard and concrete destiny writ long ago and set in stone. Whether you are going to respond best to heavy or light weight best is certainly one of these things.

When pumping iron, it’s a good idea to have in mind the following important variables and how they affect building muscle:

  1. Time(under tension) this will include tempo as well as total time (coffee breaks and babe chat-ups don’t count) that you spend actually lifting weights;
  2. Volume(let’s also include the distribution of sets/reps here to save ourselves unnecessary hassle);
  3. Weight not much to say about weight, you know what it is (unless you’re a science geek and want to resort to mass, but then you’ll probably speak in metric and not imperial)this will include bands, TRX and everything in between;
  4. Focus(not a scientific term, but one that I like) includes some intangible and subjective factors like intensity, desire, and other stuff.

I’m a little tempted to perform some impressive mathematical algorithmic calculation using the above variables. So, I’ll go ahead and make one up:

It looks plausible but what does it mean? Who knows? Don’t be fooled. Even though it appears to give a bit more scientific look to things, I’ve only just made it up, means nothing and is simply utter balderdash. (Serving merely as a way to put perceptive readers on notice that deep relationships exist between these 4 factors and the effect that they have on training your muscles).

No, you won’t be getting exactly the same physiological effects by lifting half of the weight, all other things being equal. All things are, however, not equal (they rarely are) and this fact allows some interesting training schemes to start fluttering their bedroom eyes at you. It all depends on your genes and fitting the right tactical strateoies to them.

If we take a brief look at the panoply of bodybuilders through the last half century or so we will find Mr. Olympias at each end of the training spectrum and we will also find them populating every nook and cranny in the spaces in between. From high volume athletes like Frank Zane and Arnold (whose sessions often lasted 2–3 hours 2X a day) to Mike Metzner (never to get his O, but a good bodybuilder, nevertheless. Mike trained for 20 minutes 4X weekly) and Dorian Yates (who trained so brutally heavy. He never counted warmup sets with weight that most of us will never even know what it’s like to lift.Dorian came in for his workout and was often out of the gym in 45 minutes or less).

All of them, without exception, had wildly different training and bodybuilding lifestyles.

To know the true and real nature of any animal that lives in the jungle, you first must take a walk into the jungle.

So the short answer is going to have to be that a little testing is in order. We need to gather up information about ourselves. We must go and find things out which are necessary to know about ourselves in order to really see how it all works for us before you get a right answer to your important and complicated question.

Easy examples of testing different training strategies might include:

  1. Halving the weight you use but doubling the volume of work you do (more sets and/or reps).
  2. Maybe you have a whole afternoon free and want to test your max so you go brutally heavy, but allow yourself 5 minutes rest in between sets in order to take advantage of maximum recovery.
  3. Or you might want to try something a little off-the-wall. Like a technique that fits the bill called kaatsu(basically blood flow restriction) training as a way to apply further mechanical stress on the muscle to increase damage on the cellular level without dramatically increasing your lifting weight.

When you decide to look at your training on an experimental basis like this, you begin to use your imagination as a tool to suggest training strategies. Possibilities for progress start to multiply and different outcomes beckon to you. A whole universe of possibilities awaits when you put this kind of trial-and-error training mindset into action.

A quick side note on gene testing: while not yet a science can furnish some interesting data and depending on the acuity of interpretation, can yield some useful and practical leads. Better yet, these days it’s fairly quick and isn’t so expensive. I wish it had been around when I first started training, as some wasted time listening to bad advice may have been saved. Although, on the other hand, the aforementioned method of trial & erroris how this businesshas worked since the first time a man lifted that log blocking his path and wondered how far he could throw big rocks.

Rather than looking at issues like these as just dicking around and being a pain-in-the-neck, think on what you are learning by going to the trouble of solving these issues for yourself and for your own particular body type. You are accessing the very essence of the lifting experience, beginning to own tacit knowledge that applies directly to you. That is what time served in the gym is for, you’re empowering yourself by not having to take someone else’s word for it (who may or may not know less than you do).

Begin to see this process of trial-and-error as an essential way to gain the self-knowledge required to develop the skills to truly be in command of your own levels of fitness.

How many surplus calories should I be eating to gain lean muscle only & 0% fat?

As far as 0% fat gain goes?

It’s going to be highly unlikely that you can. Although, there are ways and means to minimise the gaining of fat during periods of caloric surplus.

Your approach here should be a gradual one, as the faster you gain weight, the greater the likelihood that a higher percentage of that weight gain will be fat. And the faster you lose it, the higher the chance that the lion’s share of weight that you lose will be muscle. The body is rather tetchy when it comes to maintaining its homeostasis.

But let’s go with some reasonable observations and suggestions:

  1. 1 kg of muscle is equivalent to roughly 4000 kcal of extra food (not exactly, because there’s a water component to lean muscle mass and respiration, metabolism and so on, but good enough for us).
  2. 1 kg of fat will set you back about 9000 kcal. So, if you want to gain fat, eat lots.
  3. Take a larger portion of your calories in as protein and essential fats and less as carbohydrate.
  4. From over 40 years experience, gaining anything over 1/2 kg–1 kg on a weekly basis will give you a higher % gain in fat than muscle added.

Let’s say that you are determined to go balls out and gain 1 kg per week. Adding an extra 4000 kcal/week is a good number to start with. Remember, this is going to have to be 4000 kcal per week surplus. In particular, you’ll need to figure out what you need as an individual for maintenance purposes and add this surplus to the number of calories that you’re currently spending. If you need a parsing as far as the macros go, something like 40%PRO, 40%FAT, 20%CHO should work nicely.

For example, most people will divide the surplus over a 7-day period (between 500–600 kcal/day) which is fine. But it doesn’t have to be evenly divided.

The key to action here is to get the total of your maintenance & surplus calories in over the period of a week, check your progress and make adjustments on the basis of the results.

Does Arnold’s Encyclopaedia Still Work In This Day and Age?

You could do a lot worse than use this book as a starting point to build your future training career on.

This book is the spiritual & iconic equivalent of driving cross country in an old, dependable-as-hell 1986 Cadillac with a $100 in your pocket and not a care in the world.

I’ve had a copy of it for public viewing in all my gyms for the last quarter of a century and still get a kick out of referring to it as The Bible Of Bodybuilding.

When Arnold made the statement that He wasn’t an Actor, He was a Star and He wasn’t a Writer, He was an Author this book is part of what he meant.

He didn’t write a word of it. But nevertheless, it has the stamp of His Greatness’s Aura all over it.

It’s chock-full of inspirational photos and old school information, it is a source of tacit knowledge, (most of it is sound and still practical, especially if you’re still in your first 2 or 3 years of training) mystical bodybuilding lore and unlimited motivation, rather than hard scientific fact.

But so what? You are signing up as an acolyte in The Church Of The Pumping Iron, not enrolling at Oxford for your PhD.

It is a work that contains all the strengths of a bible and most of its weaknesses.

How Much Muscle Do Women Really Find Attractive?

What’s it gonna really take to make her swoon?

Ok, so let me deliver an answer to this delightful question from a unique and unusual perspective…mine.

When I began to train, way back in the Dark Ages, I was the proverbial Ugly 98LB Weakling.

And let’s come to terms with the known facts, I began for 2 reasons: Girls & Glamour. For at the time, I was young & dumb and believed that both of these quantities were the equivalent of A class tickets to that self-confidence I was so desperately chasing at that age.

Let’s cut to the chase, find out just what happened.

The girls who were attracted to ugly 98LB Weaklings (unexpectedly, a significant % at that age) were exchanged for girls who weren’t (but the total overall % stayed roughly the same). I didn’t get more, just different.

After many years of continuous, unremitting unscientific but practical funfilled research and breathtakingly close calls, the concessional hypothesis that resulted went something like this (it even seems to have a peculiar kind of mathematical texture about it):

The amount of muscle that a woman finds attractive is in direct proportion to the amount of muscle that the guy who attracts her has and furthermore, is also tangential to the intensity of that attraction.

Yes, viola! It’s that defacto simple.

In other words, it seems to be one of a number of other features, no big deal, just like having blue eyes, brown eyes, soft ears, hard ears, big hands, tall, short, blond, bald, dark, being a Harley rider or no. This simple discovery came wrapped as a rather surprising insight to me and has remained in my repertoire of life-insights to this very day.

So, how does this fit into our philosophy of love and what practical use can we make of it?

If muscles are going to act as a babe-magnet, then the resulting overarching quality produced from the having of them is perhaps a form of sincere self-confidence. If more muscles give this to a guy, she will probably find them attractive, whatever the quantity of meat involved may be. If more muscles don’t, then she probably won’t.

Although not actually requested, I thought a little informational upgrade might be in order: The weight of the value of any particular feature, be it mental, physical or spiritual, is essentially dependent on the quirks, kinks, vagaries and sphinxlike mysteries possessed by the individual woman or girl herself.

These basically ephemeral things will tend to remain outside your volition or control and it will serve no purpose to worry about them.

So, go ahead, go get some nice muscles. Not because you think that they will give you the upper hand in matters of the heart or act as hard currency in the transactions of love…

But, just to see what they feel like and ’cause you want ’em.

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I want to be Lean & Mean. How do I determine the minimum amount of calories on a daily basis required to do this?

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This kind of detailed data most Muscle Geeks are ready to die for.

We find ourselves sitting cross-legged and still with a clear, uncluttered mind like a buddha in a room of about average (18C–20C) ambient temperature.

Under such circumstances, most of us will burn up somewhere in the vicinity of between 1600 kcal and 2400 kcal (based on age, height, sex, amount of total and lean body mass and some other variables) in a 24-hour period.

This is called your RMR, or resting metabolic rate. If you want to nail it down a little more precisely for yourself, you can become a guinea-pig in a laboratory enclosed in a device that will determine the ratio of respiratory gas (CO2 vs O2), providing an exceedingly accurate calculation to you. Here is a scan of one that I had done at the UCLA Exercise Research Lab a few years ago pictured above as an example.

RMR is not exactly the same as BMR, or basal metabolic rate, but close enough. A nice, useful little freebie that is usually thrown in along in the printout you get is data that will also indicate what the ratio of your RMR is derived from fat vs. carbohydrate. I think mine cost me around $50 and took about an hour to do. If you have it done at a high end, profit-oriented establishment, it will probably cost you a lot more. I understand that there are now some relatively accurate handheld consumer devices on the market like the Body Gem that will do the same jobbut I haven’t had much experience with them.

So, to get back to your original question, let’s give it a provisional answer at this stage. You ought to be able to get by with a 2500–2800kcal intake (although I would experiment with a macro caloric ratio of something like 30–40% P, 20–40% F, 20-30% CHO until I could get a good idea of what worked). But what results you get will also depend heavily on your daily activity level.

As a kilogramme of muscle is worth approximately, 2000 kcal, you won’t need a large caloric excess in order to gain and maintain a little muscle. If, on the other hand, you’d like to gain another kilo of fat, that might cost you a more generous 7500 kcal of extra intake.

general rule of thumb is that the faster you gain weight, the higher the chance that the new weight gain will be composed of a higher percentage of fat. The corollary to this rather bothersome & annoying fact is that the faster you lose weight, the greater the likelihood that most of the weight loss will be from that nice, lean body mass that you worked so hard for.

The mean bit, we’re going to have to leave that up to you to figure out.