By Iron Vic Steele
Is it better to use a fast or slow rep speed? I read about explosive reps and reps that are purposefully slowed down. I just kinda push and pull without really thinking about it. I suppose I used a “normal” rep speed. Should I be speeding up or slowing down my reps for better results? Also – how fast is fast and how slow is slow? Do I have to take 10-seconds lower the bar in the bench press? I am an intermediate level guy.
A lot of experts have a lot of conflicting opinions. At Parrillo Performance our stance is the complete bodybuilder should master and utilize all three rep speeds: fast, normal, slow. An explosive rep is easy to explain and understand, during the concentric, the loaded phase of any progressive resistance rep, a fast rep, an explosive rep, is pushed or pulled as fast as possible. That’s easy. Note that the explosiveness occurs only on the concentric. Never use explosiveness on the negative. Normal rep speed is also easy to grasp, push and pull as you normally would, without thought or preplanning. The human body operates on autopilot when left alone. Unless you consciously command the body to go fast or slow, the autopilot function will default to “normal,” a rep speed halfway between fast and slow. “You can make any exercise more effective,” John Parrillo related, “by actively engaging the target muscle’s antagonist. The antagonistic muscle lies on the opposite side of a limb (biceps/triceps, quadriceps/hamstrings) or on the opposite side of the torso (pecs/lats, abs/erectors.)” Parrillo continued, “The ‘slowed eccentric’ technique generates maximum muscle fiber stimulation. ‘Barely’ slow the negative eccentric; resist by firing the antagonistic muscles.
I am a serious non-competitive bodybuilder. I am a CrossFit-type athlete and new to the Parrillo approach to training and nutrition. I am quite impressed with how comprehensive your approach is. I am particularly taken with the Parrillo nutritional approach. I am looking to maximize my lean muscle mass while retaining my current low body fat percentile. I am intrigued with the MCT CapTri® C8 MCT – there has been a lot of good press about how MCTs are beneficial on a lot of levels, including treatment of memory loss and as an energy source. How is it the calories from CapTri® C8 MCT cannot end up as body fat? This is mystifying to me.
Renee, Rancho Cucamonga
CapTri® C8 MCT is a lipid, a medium-chain triglyceride, a fat, and as such contains 9-calories per gram and 120-calories per level tablespoon. This is twice the caloric density of carbohydrate of protein calories. Not all fats are the same. MCTs have a unique metabolic structure. As soon as MCTs are consumed, they are preferentially burned. Regardless how much food you have consumed, when CapTri® C8 MCT, n MCT, is consumed, it jumps to the front of the oxidation line. CapTri® C8 MCT has the caloric density of fat yet is easily digested. Dietary fat, long-chain triglycerides (LCTs,) also contains 9-calories per gram. However, because LCT fat and body fat have such a similar chemical structure, LCT fat is easily and preferentially converted into body fat. The classic Parrillo procedure is to “switch out” fats, replace LCTs with MCTs. CapTri® C8 MCT is a sophisticated product that can be used with equal effect by those seeking to add maximum lean muscle mass and those seeking to maximally lean out. CapTri® C8 MCT is a versatile, unique, nutrient-dense source of clean calories and deserves to be on the shelf of every serious athlete.
I ordered the BodyStat Kit. My wife wants to enter a bikini competition later this year and she decided to get serious. I want to start taking her BodyStat readings on a weekly basis. I used BodyStat a decade ago when I was competing. Its been a while and I was wondering if you could go over the possibilities again – after taking the nine-point skin-fold pinch test and doing the calculations, conclusions are drawn based on the numbers – could you review the possibilities and course corrections?
BodyStat provides a pair of calipers and instructions on how to take a nine-point skinfold caliper pinch test. This will create a baseline. Once you have established a baseline, each succeeding week you can seek to improve on the baseline. Here are the weekly BodyStat possibilities.
1. Add fat, lose muscle
2. Add fat, add muscle
3. Stay the same in body fat, lose muscle
4. Stay the same in body fat, add muscle
5. Lose fat, lose muscle
6. Lose fat, add muscle
7. Stay the same in muscle, add fat
8. Stay the same in muscle, lose fat
9. Stay the same in both fat and muscle
Each of these nine generalized categories has a generalized prescription or remedy. If, by way of example, your weekly BodyStat reading indicated you had lost both fat and muscle during the previous week (#5) and assuming you were in a mass-building phase, one solution would be to maintain the current levels and intensities in cardio and weight training while increasing clean calories. The indicators are you are catabolic; to nudge you into anabolism, an increase in clean calories is called for. I think BodyStat is a smart move on your part. This takes the subjectivity out of “how do I look?” always a problem when wives ask husbands for honest feedback. Let BodyStat tell her how she’s doing. That way if she’s adding fat, you don’t have to be the one to tell her. “You’re getting fatter!!” that never goes over well, even if it is the truth.
If you were strength training high school football players, would you establish benchmarks or standards? Would you use the repetition bench press drill as a strength test, as they do at the NFL Combine? Also: what is the best sprint distance to practice? 40s? 100-meter? 200-meter? I train some college prospects and was curious what kind of strength level you would expect or strive for? I work with all types and kinds, from small, swift skill position players to giant offensive and defensive linemen. We have a good strength program – just wondering how you’d devise a strength test?
Coach Phillips Great State of Texas
First off, I would identify the lifts that were important. Then I would insist on perfect form. No partial reps or bouncing “football” bench presses. I would test the below-parallel squat, the bench press, deadlift, overhead press and power clean. No need to test curls or lateral raises. As far as standards, use ratios. Elite athletes should be able to attain the following using crisp technique: squat, double bodyweight; bench press 1.5 x bodyweight; deadlift 2.5 x bodyweight; overhead press, bodyweight; power clean, 1.25 x bodyweight. An elite 200-pound football player would have to squat 400, bench press 300, deadlift 500, overhead press 200 and power clean of 250 pounds. Obviously, these are strong numbers for a high school player. The use of the high-rep bench press at the NFL Combine is a ridiculous carryover from days when we didn’t know any better. This is a terrible strength benchmark. The best sprint length most closely matches the demands of the sports: for football 20 to 40-yard dashes are sport specific, while for soccer or Rugby 75 to 100 yards sprints might be more appropriate.
I run outdoors for my cardio here in Arizona. I love it, but as you might imagine, I sweat by the bucketful. I am a lean guy that regularly runs 5Ks and half marathons. My problem is I need to hang onto my hard-earned muscle during the competitive running season. Last year I lost ten pounds of muscle during the three-month competitive running season. I am lean and cannot afford to lose any muscle. Ideally, I would like to figure a replenishment strategy that helps me hang onto my muscle. Is this too much to ask? I eat Parrillo bars and drink Optimized Whey™ shakes every day. How about Max Endurance Formula™ or Pro-Carb™? Could they help?
I would suggest Max Endurance Formula™, Advanced Lipotropic™ and Mineral Electrolyte Formula™. This three-way combination covers a wide variety of bases. I like your instincts about Pro-Carb™: why not preload your body with glycogen? Long-distance runners traditionally have a pre-race meal of spaghetti, carb-loading using a lousy carb to do it. Pro-Carb™ is way more concentrated and way more concentrated and effective as a means of supercharging the body with carbs prior to an endurance event. As soon as a sweaty training session or run is done, wash down 4-6 Muscle Amino™ capsules with a 50/50 Plus™ shake. Muscle Amino™ is loaded with muscle-sparing branch-chain amino acids; 50/50 Plus™ is half glycogen-replenishing carbs and half muscle-sparing protein. There is no doubt in my mind that if you strategize with these powerful Parrillo supplements, you will improve running performance and retain muscle mass. Let us know how this turns out.
What exercises would you suggest to shrink the butt? I have become bottom-heavy in recent years. I have done a lot of step-aerobics and do sculpt-and-pump. Nothing seems to work. What is the best exercise for reducing oversized glutes?
Probably the best exercise for butt-reduction is to change your diet. It is not that your glute muscles are too large, it is that you have excess body fat lying atop the glute muscles. The excess body fat is stored in your “saddlebags.” This is not an exercise issue this is a diet issue. What is the best way to reduce body fat? I would suggest a Parrillo-style nutritional program synchronized with a serious “fasted-cardio” program. Cardio exercise is important. It spikes the metabolism and yours in undoubtably sluggish. Morning cardio is best: wake up, have a coffee and perform an aerobic session. Please break a sweat, if you are not moving quick enough the break a sweat, regardless the mode, you are not going to obtain much in the way of benefit. Drop all the “lite” and “low fat” foods you are eating; get rid of fruit juices and sweets. Tighten up the eating, hit some fasted cardio. Get a copy of the Parrillo Nutrition Program and stick to its precepts. With eight weeks of concentrated effort you can lose 4 to 6-inches of girth. Spot reducing is a myth. However, by implementing a new dietary approach and coupling it with some calorie-burning, metabolism-spiking fasted cardio, within two months you can go from bottom-heavy to normal.