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Archive for the ‘Bulking’ Category

My Results From The MI40 Transformation Contest

How Ripped Can You Get In 40 Days?

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I have not written for a while.  This is for a couple reasons, first life has been busy but more importantly second, I have been hitting the gym hard for the MI40 Transformation Contest.  Here are the pics, I will add my comments after.

MI40 Transformation Results Front

MI40 Transformation Challenge Results Front

MI40 Transformation Challenge Results Front
MI40 Transformation Challenge Results Front
Side

Side

Back

Back

 

This was a huge transformation, that I really can’t believe.  I didn’t think I was that bad to start with and it was going to be tough.  I don’t think I will win, there are probably some pretty high level bodybuilders that follow Ben’s program.  There were a couple things that prevented me from doing better.

First was a 10 day vacation at Disney world with my family.  Our hotel had an awesome gym but I only got 2 workouts in.  And trying to eat good when eating out every meal for 10 days is tough.  That on top of a couple nights of deserts.

Second thing was as much as I made this a priority, I still have a family and job and other things in life that are a much higher priority.  My sleep was good most of the time but could have been better.   My diet was almost perfect when we were home, mostly thanks to my awesome wife.

Last thing was the 2 gyms that I go to, neither of them have all the equipment that Ben puts in his program.  Most notably is a hack squat machine.  I usually replaced them with some sort of front squat usually in a smith machine, but you can’t over load the legs the same way.

My weight only went down about 2-3 pounds, which is good.  I will be adding in some more carbs the next while to add some more mass.

One thing to note is I did this all without counting any calories or macronutrient ratios.  I did keep carbs really low at certain times but never counted.  I followed my normal paleo with leangains style intermittent fasting.  If you want my specific eating routine and workout schedule sign up to my email list I will be sending it out sometime soon.

As for the blog, I am going to keep writing, hopefully writing some more.  I am not going to be as detail and do as much research, it will probably be more opinion based stuff, or maybe just some copy/paste of posts I make on reddit and 4hbtalk.com.  If there is anything specific you want me to write about let me know in the comments.

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Occam’s Protocol VS Mi40 by Ben Pakulski

I have never been a fan of Occam’s Protocol workouts. I personally have never followed it because my goals always have a component of athleticism for the sports that I play and coach, and Occam’s would not help me with that goal. I did experiment with Joe Defranco’s a”Westside for Skinny Bastards” program for a month, I had some small gains but felt that my cardio suffered so I went back to the Crossfit Football WODs (Workout Of the Day).

I previously reviewed Mike Geary’s Truth About Six Pack Abs e-book.  I did like it and thought it might be useful for some people that want a more detailed guide to follow than what is in the 4 Hour Body.  In the e-book Mike refers to a program called “No Nonsense Muscle Building” by a guy named Vince Delmonte.  I did not buy that program (yet) but I did sign up for his newsletters because he has some great info for free.  A while ago Vince helped his coach Ben Pakulski create a program as well.  I some how was able to view a video on vimeo of Ben giving a talk at a conference that Vince put on last year.  This was a really good presentation.  Any bodybuilder will have a good grasp bio-mechanics and nutrition, but I was thoroughly impressed with Ben’s.  When someone says things like “humans were really only meant to consume meat and vegetables”  and “bicep full range of motion requires the triceps to be contracted at the bottom” I immediately take them a bit more seriously.  Ben also has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario, a pretty good Canadian University.  His is also one of the top IFBB bodybuilders in the world.  He recently came in second at the 2012 Flex Pro, and just the other day came 4th in the Arnolds.  I have never been a huge fan of bodybuilding, but I have paid attention to it a little bit.   Ben has previously competed in the Mr. Olympia but this year qualifying is more difficult[1] and placing 4th in the Arnold’s left him one spot out of qualifying for this years Mr. Olympia.

I usually would not recommend following an elite level body builders program.  In my opinion this program is different that a workout that you would find in your latest issue of Muscular Development or something like that.

  1. Ben actually trains regular drug free clients as well.  He has experience as a trainer and trainee.
  2. I think Ben understand physiology very well and I really like this quote from his sales page “maximizing recovery, controlling inflammation and balancing hormones”
  3. Ben is not a genetic freak like other high level bodybuilders like Arnold or Dorian Yates or Jay Cutler.  This seems to be the consensus on what others say in the bodybuilding community as well.  Ben just works smarter and harder than the rest.

I bought the package and skimmed through it a few months ago.  I just recently took another serious look at it, specifically the nutrition section.  Now there are some really interesting explanations of endocrinology for building muscle while minimizing fat gain.  Specifically carbohydrate timing, which is one of the things I frequently criticize the 4 Hour Body for missing.  There is a catch 22 problem when timing carbs for muscle gains and fat loss.  Dietary carbs cause insulin release which is anti-catabolic for muscle, something I have talked about before.  But keeping carbs low pre workout will increase growth hormone release[2]  so how do we optimize growth hormone without being in a catabolic state which causes muscle mass?  Ben has a really good plan for carbohydrate timing specific for this outlined in his nutrition manual of the Mi40 package.

Ben, like Tim, talks about time under tension a lot, he likes to call it ‘intensions’.  He uses a common 4-0-1-0 tempo that is common in bodybuilding programs, but a bit different than the 5-0-5-0 tempo that Tim suggests.  I like how Ben explains tension and how to optimize it.  I really like this quote “Muscles do not know how much weight you are using.  They only know how much tension is actually going through them at any one moment.”  Never thought of it like that, and in a quest to get stronger have always lifted more than I probably should have.

There is also an extra that Ben adds on to his sets that he calls NOS which is short for Neurological Overload Sets.  This is pretty much a specifically calculated drop set that you do on your 5th set.  I have always been a huge fan of drop sets, they have always worked well for me and know there is some explanation as to why.  Ben has some video’s explaining NOS that I will embed below.

And he wears vibram five fingers, got my respect from that alone.

Here are some links to so free info you can get from Ben.

Just to be thorough in my review, here are some of the things I don’t like about the program. First the info is a bit scattered, because there are 8 different PDFs it is hard to quickly skim through and get the necessary info. Also the writing in the program still feels like I am trying to be sold something, I am not sure why but a lot of it feels like filler. I would rather it be shorter and more concise. The upsells I did not buy so I am not sure how good or bad they are. Also the price is a bit high, there is a sale on right now because of the Arnold’s but it will be over in a few hours.

So I do recommend this to ANYONE that lifts weights, not just those trying to bulk up. Why? Because the nutrition info included is for optimizing muscle gain and fat loss, what most people are trying to do. I would NOT recommend this program for someone that has a lot of fat to lose, that is a slightly different physiological approach in my opinion and The Dark Side of Fat Loss would be my recommendation. Ben’s scientific approach makes sense to me and is backed up by all the other reading that I have done, add in his practical guide to follow and you’re set. I am going to put in some serious effort into this and report back after I complete the 40 days. Check out some video’s below.

Ben Explaning Intentions

Ben Explaning NOS (Neurologica Overload Set)

  1. http://www.musculardevelopment.com/news/breaking-news/3629-new-olympia-qualifying-rules-for-mens-bodybuilding.html
  2. http://anthonycolpo.com/?p=244

Why CrossFit Gets a Bad Rep

I recently ran across a tweet that Martin Berkhan made with a link to the video below.  Try to watch the video without getting upset, it will be hard.

So and explanation of what this is.  This is not a standard clean and jerk, this is called a continental clean and jerk with an axel, not a standard barbell.  This is commonly used in strongman competition.  The real question is WHY ARE YOU TEACHING THIS TO BEGINNERS?  Sorry for the caps had to get that out of my system.

Here is what a continental clean actually does look like

Now I am a big advocate of learning advanced lifts like the clean and jerk, (hang clean, power clean etc) but these are very complicated lifts and need to be learned in stages and at least one session with a decent coach.

Do you do any olympic lifts in your routine? or are you still using machines?

Good article by Vince Delmonte on how to Screw Up in the Gym

Why I Don’t Do Cheat Days

I knew many people would not like this post, but I do want to stress that cheat days can be good and even necessary for some people. I choose not to do them because a) I want to be single digit body fat and b) I feel much better without them. I am NOT saying that you should not do them, what I am saying is that they are not required, and it could be beneficial not do to them.

I “Cheat” Everyday and Feel Better With Even Less Body Fat

Cheat days seem to be the most beloved topic of people starting out on the Slow-Carb diet as prescribed by Tim Ferriss in the 4 Hour Body.  People seem to live for their cheat day talking about it all week and rejoicing when it comes.  A I talked about before this was never really an issue for me.  My initial thoughts were that if I keep thinking about cheat day then I will never break the physiological hold that sugar has on me.  None the less I continued to do cheat days on Saturdays, sometimes starting early on Friday night.

I often speak to one even that seemed to be my “harajuku moment” of cheat day.  I  had 2 birthday parties to go to in one day, one at lunch one a diner.  I gorged myself on deep fried food at the first party, then ate a ton of desert at the second party.  The next day was not a pleasant one, I will spare you all the details.  Since then I have not had a full cheat day, I have also cut back and had very little gluten products.  This was huge for me as I leaned out very quickly after that.

So I did not stop cheating completely in regards to what is “allowed” on the slow carb diet.  I have fruit regularly, when I first started I cut back on it drastically and only had a little, then after I stopped cheat days I stated being more free with it, once I got on the Paleo band wagon and listened to Robb Wolf’s podcast and started lifting heavy I used it for pre/post workout energy and restoring glycogen.

I also eat way too much dark chocolate.  It is a regular nightly occurrence for me and my wife to have dark chocolate fondue with fruit, usually bananas and strawberries.  I also snack on it sometimes at work.  Recently I have dialled it back and eat it much less in an effort to get to single digit body fat.

How I Deal With Social Situations

This is probably the hardest part of eating healthy.  The peer pressure to eat cake, friends that don’t care about their diet and are fat and out of shape make fun of me for eating healthy.  And free food, who can say no to free food?  I remember it very clearly the first time I said no to free donuts at work, it was fulfilling, I felt like I accomplished something.  After that point saying no to food got easier and easier.  I rarely give in to social pressure these days.  I will have very small piece of cake every once in a while, or maybe a small scoop of ice cream.  If people pressure me too much I just tell them I am allergic to gluten and it is as easy as that.  Is it a lie? not really because gluten does make me sick.

Maintenece Mode

People on 4hbtalk.com often talk about foods to add after they reach their goal, increasing sweets or adding an extra cheat day.  I am have been a bit over critical towards these people but here is my point.  That is not the point of the diet, that does not make it sustainable and you will probably put the weight back on and you will probably be unhealthy too.  Refined grains and refined sugar have been compared to tobacco or alcohol, they are addictive physically and mentally.  I think people need to start thinking of them this way in order to realize how detrimental they can be.  An alcoholic can’t have a drink for a reason, it has a domino affect.  Just like Tim talks about domino foods like almonds, refined sugar and flour are 10 times worse than almonds.

My Suggestions

Hopefully you don’t see me as being one of the over zealous, dogmatic Paleo types.  I do think that everyone is different and there is no one perfect diet.  I am pretty adamant about refined sugar and refined flour, I really don’t think there is anything positive about them.  I suggest trying breaking the physiological control of sugar, slowly.  If you need cheat days to do then thats is fine.  I just don’t see the point of lowering your sugar intake until you reach a certain weight and then start increasing it.  If you have cravings for sugar that is normal, small amount of fruit should not be an issue as long as you work on lowering the quantity.  If you are trying to get really lean and in the last mile stage then you will need to avoid fruit.  If you need a cheat day, I highly suggest keeping it gluten free as well.

See a good article on cheat day/meals by Vince Delmonte here.

What is your take on cheat days? Do you need it? Like it? Hate it? Leave a comment and let me know

Updated Progress

I have not posted a progress update for a while, I have been mostly in maintenance mode until the last couple weeks.  After reading Gary Taubes book “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It”  I was motivated to cut my carbs back even more, and I saw immediate results.

One other change that I did make 2 months ago was a new job that had a Gym very close, so I now am able to lift real weights at lunch time 3-4 times a week.  Lifting heavy vs bodyweight exercises is a big difference.

Here is a new picture compared to my last pictures.

December 29th, 2010

April 21, 2011 - 113 days

August 17, 2011 - 231 days