September 2011 BSN Challenge

         Gaining weight the good way was all about the last 12 weeks and more before the next challenge. My goal was to increase size and strength while minimizing body fat gains over the 12 weeks. Currently I'm continuing this goal for a few more weeks to total 18 weeks. With this strength and size gaining program I had already knew my body type as being endomorph (easily to gain weight especially as fat). Therefore I structured a program to try to minimize the fat gains while being in a hyper caloric diet. I admit I threw in more cheat meals than I had before and I had fun with it.

         I shifted from Gris Gethin's hardcore training series to Derek Charlebois's Tri-Phase Specialized Hypertrophy Program (9 week program) with a few modifications. My ultimate goal was to centralize around compound lifts and progress lifting heavier while maintaining form. I added excellent advice from Jimmy Pena's Power Rack training series which helped me tremendously in safely and maximally forcing my muscles to control more weight. At this same time I was reading Arnold Schwarzenegger book, The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. This helped in the overall direction and motive to my goal. All together I have put in a lot of new training principles to use and made some great gains in strength and size. I lifted 4 times a week with a full rest day in-between with the two last sessions being consecutive. The program was split into 3 phases each 3 weeks. All routines consisted mostly compound movements. The first phase hitting each muscle group once a week focusing on increasing volume. The second consisted of 2 upper and 2 lower days focusing on the load of lift over low volume and heavier weight. The last phase really mixed up the routine with full body workouts and various rep ranges. It also included weak points which I emphasized my back, triceps, and calves. I included steady state low to moderate intensity cardio post workout (20-25 mins) and during my days off (30-45 mins). This increased within each phase. During these two off days I included ab routines split up as one day upper abs and one day lower abs. I reserved one day each week usually after the last weight training session to be totally off training to fully recover.

          Not totally throwing out the diet and adding calories was the fun but challenging part. I increased carbs and fat overall. On lifting days I had 6 to 7 meals, 5 to 6 of which had carbs and the last, none. On non lifting days I had 5 to 6 meals, 4 to 5 which had carbs and the last, none. Fat consumption was too high as I added it throughout the meals and more during the evening meal without carbs. I did not measure but merely eyeballed most of the macro nutrients. I threw in 1 to 4 cheat meals throughout the week which was pretty nice. I made sure it was a lifting day the next day which actually provided me with more energy to lift with more density (higher volume and weight). I had a great time during the weeks and did not limit intake around the holidays which contributed to a lot of the fat gains.

          The supplements remained the same with a few new added and cycled. I added vitamin C, (ALA) alpha lipoic acid, and vitamin E around my lifting training to help with recovery and nutrient partitioning. (CLA) conjugated linoleic acid was added around meals to help partition more nutrients to muscle recovery than as fat gain. I decided also to upgrade my multivitamin and joint supplement on lifting days to help with the higher demands of the training. A new and more advanced supplement that stacked to my previous was (ARA) arachidonic acid. I was unable to find it as a stand alone so I found a blend which consisted of legal natural testosterone support ingredients and herbals. The two worked synergistically, one supporting natural testosterone and the other in tissue hormone sensitivity. This supplement was cycled 6 weeks on and 4 weeks off (currently on second cycle to finish before the start of the next challenge).

         Motivation and determination was huge through out the weeks and currently. With the demanding training and myself learning to control heavier weight I had a few joint related injury flare ups (elbow, ankle, hip). I rested when needed and adjusted exercise's accordingly to protect, support, strengthen the weakened areas. I learned to train harder and smarter at the same time. Through out the weeks and currently I've been inspired by family and friends. This is where all of the love and appreciation comes from. As the new year rolls in, I will continue to do the same for others. I've gained new respect from all the "Golden Aged" bodybuilders and current competing individuals. "This sport is truly the hardest I've ever tried." I enjoy helping people and I'm motivated by others who are on their journey's as I see them "work their butt off, achieve, and stay hungry."

June 2011 Labrada Challenge

       New knowledge gained is never lost. I've challenged myself to gain more muscle and lose fat. I followed Gris Gethin's hardcore 12 week trainer and attained more concepts to my training and diet. I produced excellent progress through week 7 until I reached a energy crash due from my diet. From then on I solely focused on maintaining my energy through my workouts and building muscle while maintaining or dropping fat.

       My training was very diverse and routines changed frequently on a weekly basis. Resistance training was based on a 2 days on 1 day off schedule. I trained with weights anywhere from 3 to 5 times weekly. Several training principles were used such as FST-7, YT3, and DTP. I trained from heavy to light weight and from low volume to high volume. The body was shocked for muscle growth. Cardio was bumped to 2 in day sessions but always low to moderate intensity to aid in fat burning and muscle recovery. Weight training remained solid throughout the plan, however cardio was tapered due to my schedule and energy levels.

      Diet was pretty much inline with Body by Design plan. I used the same recipes in addition to adding and mixing others. I've learned how to taper carbs on a weekly basis to drop bodyfat. I cut too much too soon half way through the program which made me go back up and stay with a  constant intake. I incorporated more free meals / eating windows towards the end of my plan which were helpful. I also tried adding an additional meal which totaled to 7 on training days.

      My supplements also stayed inline with the Body by Design plan in addition to some others that were introduced by the new plan. Green tea, yohimbe, and L carnitine were used for an antioxidant, increasing blood flow, and fat burning. The most helpful for me in addition was BCAA's and glutamine which I stacked pre and post workout and helped with muscle recovery.

      I stayed motivated despite the setbacks on my diet. I've learned new things for my training, diet, and supplementation through and the Kris' Gethin trainer. Currently I'm reading material which I'm applying and will use in the future. I didn't lose as much fat as I planned but I did gain muscle, more knowledge, and inspiration for the next challenge.

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January 2011 Optimum Challenge

      I'm perpetually inspired by this contest. There are many great people on bodyspace and the infinite amount of information for motivation, tools, and success. I would not have been able to achieve and be consistent with my challenge without this. I personally thank and Kris Gethin with the help for my current results.

      I read and followed Kris Gethin's Body by Design program. This was the key to my success.  I trained with weights 3 times a week and did cardio daily. Cardio was done twice on non-weight training days in addition to training abs. It was split into 3 phases to stimulate the muscles for growth and to avoid plateau and at the same time keeping training fresh and fun. I wrote down what I was to accomplish before  training and logged every single workout. I used this to evaluate my progress with the gym.

      The diet was outstanding. I loved the food and recipes in the program. I always looked forward towards my meals throughout the day. A lot of planning was done on this part which was another important role to my results. I wrote, planned, and logged every meal every day. This helped my metabolism consistent and cravings low.

       I took a multivitamin, joint supplement, mrp shakes, whey, casein, creatine, and a pre-workout supplement (phase 2 & 3). These all helped on top of the sound training and diet plan.

       I stayed motivated by consistently planning, logging, and evaluating my results. Bodyspace and a workout log helped a great deal with that. In addition, interacting with family, friends, and co-workers about my goals and plans helped me stay on track and true to myself and focused on goals.

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