By Duke Nukem
Bodybuilders new to the Parrillo approach to bodybuilding are taken aback by how much bodybuilding-related data they are required to write down. Most beginner and intermediate bodybuilders don’t bother writing down the results from their weight training. And few if any new trainees go to the trouble to write down their nutrition: what they eat and drink. Why go to all the hassle? Why is it that elite Parrillo Personal Trainers insist that those working with them log training results and log eating? They need data to formulate the next progress-inducing training tweak or nutritional adjustment. Any bodybuilder that goes to the time and trouble to log training results will dramatically increase their current quotient of lean muscle mass. If you want to lean out to a significant degree, establish a nutritional journal, a food log. By logging training and nutrition the bodybuilder takes his commitment to the next level. Commitment is always followed by progress.
Let’s be honest, most bodybuilders don’t go to the time, trouble or effort to log results from their workouts because they are not disciplined enough. Why write down what we are doing in training and eating if we don’t use the data or don’t know how to use the data? The first step is to go to the time and trouble to log: the bodybuilder writes down the training, the sets, reps and exercises; if it’s cardio, then log mood, intensity and duration. When we create a nutritional log the bodybuilder notates when they eat, what they eat, the quantity and the number of calories; sophisticated bodybuilders break out micronutrient compositional content. While most bodybuilders will embrace establishing the training log and the nutrition log, everything involved with carrying it out meets greater resistance. The unvarying excuse as to why the beginner or intermediate bodybuilder doesn’t maintain a nutrition log is invariably, “Logging food is too complex and is a royal pain in the butt!” We think that it is not coincidental that the lesser bodybuilders almost never log nutrition while the elite bodybuilders almost always log. As John Parrillo points out, “There is an old saying, ‘knowledge is power’ and logging food and logging exercise results is data and from this data can come self-knowledge that can be used to make adjustments that stimulate progress.” All of which is almost impossible if you don’t compile the data.
High level bodybuilding is a complex undertaking; there are a lot of activities going on all at the same time. You have a nutritional strategy for regular food and another strategy for supplements; you have a cardio strategy; you have a lifting strategy – all these various strategies are moving forward simultaneously. That creates a lot of levers and handles to shift and tweak…assuming you’re smart enough to know which ones to tweak and how much and when. Logging is of tremendous benefit in resistance training because it causes the logger to do more than just train, logging forces the bodybuilder to plan ahead. We train, we log and then we review the results and draw new conclusions. After reviewing the results, the astute bodybuilder makes the appropriate cardio or lifting tweaks and adjustments. Logging food, beverages and supplements becomes a reflexive act of self-control. When a person begins writing down what they consume, their diet seems to magically clean up. The very act of writing down what we eat and knowing we are going to write it down acts as a strong and consistent detriment against making bad choices.
A goal without a plan is a wish:
You cannot compete past a certain level in bodybuilding if you aren’t disciplined enough to log; you will need to write it all down and continually review results in order to plot a future course of action. Compile the data, review results and then plan ahead strategically and intelligently. Otherwise you are just stumbling forward, haphazardly, without discipline or purpose. Let’s be honest, most beginner and intermediate bodybuilders don’t pre-plan workouts. More often than not, they simply walk into the weight room of the local YMCA or commercial gym and improvise a workout on the spot. Usually every workout includes bench pressing and some form of curling. These spontaneous workouts are almost always made up of favored exercises. When too many favored exercises are done for too long it creates lopsided physical development. What the mature bodybuilder seeks is the polar opposite: a symmetrical and balanced physique. Parrillo is the voice of reason. “Continually playing to your strengths in training is a dead end street; topflight bodybuilders systematically work their weak points first and most often. This is how they straighten out symmetrical imbalances. We don’t make our imbalances worse by continually playing to our strengths.”
How to log:
Bodybuilders that follow the Parrillo system are expected to maintain a training log and a nutritional log. If you compile and log data you are then able to tweak any aspect of the lifting or cardio. By creating a nutrition log you are able to adjust the micronutrient balance, alter the caloric volume, or switch out supplements to mention just a few possibilities you could use to get progress moving. If you decide to start a training log, the old school way to log was to carry a small spiral notebook and a pen or pencil in the gym bag. Modern man can, we suppose, input training results into cell-phones or laptop computers – regardless where or how the results are created and kept – the procedure is always the same: as soon as a weight training set has ended, write down what you just did. No, we don’t wait until the end of the workout to write down the entire workout; experience has shown that forgetfulness is quite common. Here is how a single progressive resistance training session log entry should look, at a bare minimum.
feeling sluggish, low energy
- Bench press: 135×12 reps, 185×10, 205×8 touch-and-go, 205×8, 205×7, 185×15
Missed last rep of 3rd set with 205; 185 set included three forced reps
- Incline dumbbell press: 50s for 8, 55s for 8, 60s for 8 reps – good!
- Pec-dec: 8-plastes, two sets to failure 12 reps/10 reps, three forced reps
- Cable crossover: 6-plates, two sets to failure, 10 reps, 10 reps, two forced
There is a lot of good information included in this single log entry. We know our trainee weighed 175 and was having an off day. That being said, our man had a good session on an off day. He had a plan going into the workout and created new empirical data coming out. He has a current frame of reference to compare future efforts to. We can log cardio with the same degree of specificity…
Date 1-6-16, 6am
pre-breakfast cardio, fighting off fatigue
- Schwinn push-pull bike: 30-minutes, 450 calories burned, 148 avg hrt rate, 84% ARHR
Again, the log contains a lot of good information. He started off on January 6th weighing 173 lbs waking up in the morning and by day’s end, when he lifts, up 2 full pounds. He uses a push-pull bike to burn off 450 calories, a sweet 15-calorie per minute burn rate. He jacks his heart rate upward to as high as 170 during the session and at sessions end he has averaged 148-beats per minute for the 30-minute session duration. So simple calculating indicates he has hit 84% of his age-related heart rate maximum (ARHR) for the entire session. By all current standards, this is a solid aerobic effort. Because it is logged, the athlete can plot future cardio and see how future efforts stack up to this session.
The Nutrition Log:
The most commonly asked question regarding Parrillo-style bodybuilding nutrition is, how specific do we need to be? Do we have to weigh our food? The short and simple answer is, at least initially, yes. Deal with it; weighing food is the price of precision and serious bodybuilding requires a degree of precision that most wanna-be bodybuilders are unwilling or unable to deal with. It is critically important that when we embark on a Parrillo-style nutritional plan we need be exact, insofar as what we consume and how much of it we consume. Without incredible precision in our nutrition, tweaks and adjustments are impossible. How do you know if a bodybuilder would benefit from adding 250 grams of chicken breast protein per day when he doesn’t know “exactly” how much protein he is currently consuming? There is a reason John Parrillo includes a food scale in his Nutrition Program. A serious bodybuilder needs to understand and grasp portion size. The only way to really understand how much 100-grams of rice is. Or how much is 200 grams of halibut, is to repeatedly go through the hassle of weighing out the portion size in grams.
This is a barebones entry in a serious nutritional log; serious bodybuilders will further break out the calories eaten at each meal into how many grams of protein, how much starch, how many fiber carbs, how much fat and sugar were consumed at each meal. Log a meal, jot down what you ate immediately after each meal. If you wait until the end of the day you will forget a lot of things. The Parrillo nutritional manual breaks food into gram portion sizes in order to calculate micronutrients. Weighing food enables the bodybuilder to calculate and notate with the ultimate in precision.
Does this mean the serious bodybuilder must weigh every ounce of food they consume for the rest of their life? No, because a person only need weigh a 100 or 200 or 250 gram portion size of boneless skinless chicken breast or lean beef so many times before they can “eyeball” a portion size within a few grams. Ditto with portion sizes of rice, vegetables, oatmeal, egg whites, any food of any type that the bodybuilder deals with repeatedly and on a regular basis. After a week or two of conscientious weighing of portions, most bodybuilders are able to either use the scale so quickly it is no longer an issue or impediment, or they develop their ability to ‘eye-ball’ a portion size with such great accuracy that the scale is no longer needed. Once the beginner or intermediate bodybuilder begins weighing food and exerting that degree of control and precision, busting through the next level of leanness is a certainty. John Parrillo has noted this phenomena repeatedly, “I’ve seen it happen a hundreds of times; the bodybuilder finally gets serious enough to weigh portions and really pay attention to micronutrients and BAM! They lean out so fast it is shocking!”
The ultimate in logging is done with the Parrillo BodyStat Kit. While it is one thing to assemble the data and mull over results in order to make beneficial tweaks and adjustments, BodyStat gives you one more piece of data with which to form your weekly course adjustments – BodyStat provides the bodybuilder with their current body fat percentile. Parrillo provides a skin-fold calliper with which the bodybuilder takes a nine point skin-fold measurement to arrive at a body fat percentile. For a bodybuilder, particularly a competitive bodybuilder, the ability to monitor body fat at home is optimal. Body Stat enables the bodybuilder to lower their body fat percentile without losing hard-earned muscle mass during the lean-out process. You need to have a plan and then compile and log the results of the plan, as it unfolds each successive week. Use BodyStat as your report card: each week let BodyStat tell you how your training and eating have gone – did you maintain? or add muscle while losing body fat? Yes or no? Without BodyStat you are flying blind. Without logging you are short-changing your bodybuilding potential.