I lack a back…Re-learning running…Women in the UFC…The fat doctor freaks out

By Iron Vic Steele

Salutations Victor!

Thanks for all your advice. You have heavily influenced my training for the better. I am what you would call an eternal intermediate bodybuilder. I am looking to take my game to the next level but my back is weak and I know it. While my lats are good, I am lacking traps, erectors and all that mid-back mass you would see on a Ron Coleman or Yates back in his day. I train my back once a week and will start off with sets of bodyweight chins, one-arm dumbbell rows, seated cable rows and finish with some lat pull-downs. I usually hit each exercise for 3-4 sets iron-vic-woman-flexingof 8-10 reps. I have used this routine for years. The other day I was staying at a hotel that had two mirrors allowing me to see my back – it was pathetic and weak looking! I hadn’t really seen my full back in a long time and I was disappointed. I am 30, in good shape and ready to get serious about back training – what would you recommend?

BACK-less in Seattle!

Actually your plight is typical. Non-competing bodybuilders tend to train the hell out of the muscles they can see in the mirror. There is an old cliché, “out of sight, out of mind” and never was that quip more appropriate than in bodybuilding. When a bodybuilder decides to compete, he or she gets a reality check when they stand in front of judges while those that don’t compete ever get that reality check; you got it at that hotel. Elite bodybuilders work on their weak points while beginners and intermediate bodybuilders continually play to their strengths. Weak points tend to be muscles that cannot be seen when gazing at a mirror. The “beach muscles” (chest, shoulders, abs, thighs, calves and arms) tend to get all the time and attention while the back and hamstrings are predictably neglected. One absurd example was the old IFBB bodybuilder Paul Dillet. When viewed from the front, he was Mr. Olympia; when viewed from the rear the guy couldn’t win Mr. Cleveland. The fastest and best way to bring up a weak back is to become a deadlift master. The problem is, done right, the deadlift is the greatest of all back exercises; done wrong the improper deadlift is not only worthless (from a back-building standpoint) it is injurious.

A technically improper deadlift will get you hurt faster than any other single exercise. What is a “proper” deadlift? Set the hips low at the start and keep the back straight and the torso upright. The bar is broken from the floor using leg power. As the bar approaches the knees, the powerful “hip-hinge” is activated. The mistake most everyone makes is to set the hips way too high at the start and use the hip-hinge to break the bar from the floor. We called these ‘stiff-leg deadlifts’ and the stiff leg throws 100% of the stress on the spinal column, specifically on the 2-3 spine discs where the bending takes place. I would suggest starting every back workout with five sets of five reps in the dead lift. Start super light, learn the technique and up the poundage 10-20 pounds each week. This type of deadlifting saves the spine, stresses the back muscles and will give you exactly what you seek. Ten weeks of “proper” deadlifting will add mounds of muscle to traps, erectors and lats. The good news is because these muscles have been neglected for so long they will come up quick.

Vic Steele,

What is the best way to get in shape for running?  What “supplement stack” would you recommend for someone getting in shape to run 5K races? I am 20-pounds overweight and need to get it off as I have just turned 40. I really thought I was in better shape than what I am; I do “cardio” every day and have for years. I have my little routine where I wake up and do 30 minutes of stationary bike riding. I kinda diet and I love to lift weights and I am pretty strong with a 250 bench press and a 400-pound deadlift – which I am quite proud of since I weigh 190. So anyway, my 15 year old entered high school and got into cross-country running – which he does competitively for his school. I went out on a run with him, all cocky because “I’m in shape” and I could not run worth a damn. I looked and felt spastic and after 400 yards was completely gassed!  I was a lineman in high school football and ran all the time – now I discover ten years of stationary biking didn’t do a damned thing! My son suggested we enter a 5K (3.1 miles) three months from now. I gotta try some new stuff. I figured this would be a good time to get serious about getting in shape, real shape, and shed the 20 pounds of fat I’ve accumulated. I also want to gain back some respect. My son thought it was funny as hell that Mr. Weightlifter couldn’t keep up with him for a quarter mile. I am fired up like I haven’t been in decades. Help me re-inflate my flattened ego! I am going to jump into this run/diet thing with both feet – what Parrillo supplements would you suggest for this new direction?

John G. Pasadena

I am not surprised. Running – really running – is not stationary bike riding. Likely you got in a comfortable groove and would go for the same length of time at the same pace each and every day. The problem is your body long ago figured out how to neutralize any positive impact the stationary bike was having on your body. The key to becoming a better runner is to run; but you can’t go too crazy too fast or you will injure yourself; done right, running is intense and those that jump into running too quickly are prone to developing shin splints, muscle pulls and a whole host of related injuries. The idea is to build up your tolerance to running gradually. Start off with a light run of ten minutes on day one, session one. Pay attention to the mechanics of running: running is not jogging; when we jog/trot our feet barely leave the ground. With real running you need to lift the knees and move – two feet are never on the ground at the same time when you really run.

So you relearn how to run and you run for 10 minutes; you will need to run 5-7 times a week. After a month you will be able to run hard for forty minutes. In the second month, now that you have relearned how to run and have got your wind up, you can start running for a couple miles and timing yourself. In the beginning of the third month you start running three miles. Do that for a full month and you are ready for the 5K. Supplements? That is easy: ProCarb™ is a fabulous supplement for endurance athletes. Drink several ProCarb™ shakes a day; take a ProCarb™ shake prior to your daily run in order to “top off” energy-supplying glycogen. After the running session, drink a second ProCarb™ shake to replenish. I would also suggest Max Endurance Formula™, which is designed to aid hard cardio. Once you really get into the running thing you will discover that you will sweat profusely (a good thing!) and that often your sweat will smell of ammonia (not good!) Ammonia is produced by the body in response to ketone breakdown and when ammonia appears the body is unable to use body fat as fuel. Max Endurance Formula™ prevents ammonia build-up and allows you, the runner, to use body fat as fuel once glycogen is exhausted. You get the best of both worlds; the use of Max Endurance Formula™ allows you to burn off fat and run better. Personally, I think your boy spanking your fat-ass was the perfect event to slap you out of complacency. Let’s relearn how to run and lose those 20 pounds of body fat. A leaner you will be able to run longer and faster.  ProCarb™ and Max Endurance™ are magical for real runners!

Hello Grumpy!

What do you think of women MMA fighters? Female mixed-martial arts has taken off in a way no one could have predicted and Rhonda Rousey has become the biggest star in all of MMA – who could have imagined such a thing even five years ago? Are you a fan or a naysayer?  A lot of guys think it’s a joke. I wondered if you liked or disliked this newest trend in MMA.                               

Stone Man, Austin

I love it! In this age of Orange County Housewives and extreme political correctness, having some real live action hero-type women is a welcome relief. The female fighters are presenting some terrific new role models for young women. The lady fighters nowadays are no joke: Rhonda was literally raised from birth to fight. Her mom was a judo legend and Rhonda would relate how mom would sneak up and clamp a choke or an arm-bar submission on her and force her to “counter and escape.” This type of training, literally growing up fighting, is how true greatness occurs. Does not this type of upbringing put you in mind of the type of immersion a Gracie is subjected to? With all the weak, vacant, pathetic, superficial women being put forward as “role models” in all these ridiculous “housewife” shows, what a breath of fresh air to see strong, powerful, self-assured female athletes front and center? I loved the way Rhonda destroyed her loudmouthed Brazilian opponent in less than two minutes in her most recent fight. I am a huge fan and feel she is the female Royce Gracie. And it does not hurt that she is attractive and not in the slightest marked up or disfigured. She is no broken-nosed incoherent, scarred monster with no technique – she is classy and fiery. 


My doctor tells me that any more than a .5 a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day is “all anyone needs and too much protein can lead to kidney failure.” I had a great check-up and over the past six months had lost 25-pounds of bodyweight. He asked what I had done to achieve my dramatic change. I told him how I had gotten on the Parrillo Nutritional Program and had really gotten into my lifting and cardio. He quizzed me about my dieting (he is a fatso, by the way) and when I told him I was eating 150 grams of protein per day (I weighed 155 when I started and I am down to 130 pounds) he freaked out!  He told me I could be “putting my health at risk eating so much protein.” What is up with this??? Is protein-related kidney failure a problem amongst bodybuilders?

Donna, NYC

This is typical and predictable. You would think there was an epidemic of bodybuilders experiencing kidney failure and having to have transplants and go on dialysis – which of course there isn’t. There are more people struck by lightning in NYC than there are bodybuilders experiencing protein-induced kidney failure. Let us just relate that since the 1980s Parrillo Performance has been obtaining spectacular results by insisting bodybuilders, athletes and serious fitness types take in lots of protein. If you are training hard enough to make real gains, pounding it in the weight room and engaging in sweaty, result-producing aerobics on a daily basis, the body takes a beating. Protein is the key nutrient for regenerating shattered muscles, healing broken-down tissue and accelerating recovery. We need to recover before we can grow.  Protein helps us recover and protein is critical for creating new muscle. I find it interesting that your doctor basically swept your phenomenal progress aside as soon as he could find something to be critical of. Two Parrillo protein shakes per day will provide 60-70 grams of the purest protein available anywhere. The famed Parrillo Protein bar™, or my favorite, the Soft Chew bar™, each provides 20 grams of fat-free protein. The point being that there is no need to cook every bite of protein or eat every bite of protein in order to take in enough to hit the magical 1-gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Obviously the path you have chosen is working and working wonderfully. If your overweight advice-giving uber-critical doctor were smart, he’d get on the Parrillo high-protein nutritional regimen. But somehow I don’t see that happening. You go Girl!