By Iron Vic Steele
Now that summer is over, I want to shift from leaning out to adding some muscle. I had an excellent spring/summer, losing 21-pounds, mainly from (finally!) getting super serious about a Parrillo multiple-meal eating schedule. I would consume a meal or supplement meal every three waking hours. I hit a cardio session every morning before breakfast and would weight train in the afternoon. I want to change directions. Now that I am lean, I could use some muscle. I look thin. Underneath all that body fat, I found out that I didn’t have as much muscle as I thought. I got lean over the spring and summer and thought; why not add some lean muscle mass over the fall and winter?
Marc, Upstate New York
If you live in cold weather areas, like upstate New York, it makes sense to get maximally lean during the spring and summer. Summertime equates to getting ripped; summer means more activity, summertime equates to cleaner, lighter foods, eaten in lesser amounts. What better progressive resistance compliment than, while seeking to get lean, train lighter and longer, using less poundage, shorter rest times and a big menu of exercises. Cardio is King in the summertime. The light, clean eating, the copious cardio combined with a high-volume weight training makes for the optimal combination for burning off body fat. It makes just as much sense that, in the deep winter, concentrate on becoming maximally stronger and more muscular. Food taste better in cold weather. The appetite picks up and activities are restricted. What better time to shift into a mass-building phase? Kick up the calories – but keep up the fasted cardio. Fasted cardio is the ideal way to stay lean during a mass-building phase. Too many bodybuilders make the mistake of cutting out the cardio when building mass, or, if they do cardio, they do it sporadically. Tossing cardio is a bad idea if you want weight gain to be lean. The lifting is critical. Hypertrophy only occurs by pushing up to, or past, our current lifting capacities. Concentrate on pushing strength levels upward. Increasing strength automatically increases muscle size.
Nutrition and supplementation are critical. For building mass, I would stock up on both Hi-Protein™ and Optimized Whey™ protein powder. Whey is fast acting and releases its protein payload quickly; caseinate offers a slow and sustained release of its protein payload. Whey protein is ideal to consume upon awaking for a quick protein jolt. Casein is ideal to take before bed as the protein releases as we sleep. Other mass-building supplement recommendations would include CapTri® C8 MCT, the King of clean calories. CapTri® C8 MCT delivers 100 net usable calories per tablespoon and because it is an MCT lipid, CapTri® C8 MCT calories cannot end up stored as body fat. Pro-Carb™ is a fabulous mass-building supplement. Drink Pro-Carb™ shakes before and again after training. “Top off” glycogen tanks heading into the training session and replenish depleted glycogen afterwards. Why not throw in some delicious Parrillo Energy Bars™? Building lean muscle mass is dependent on the combining of hardcore training, high calorie eating and continuing cardio. You would be well-advised to purchase the Parrillo BodyStat kit to monitor body composition. Why fly blind?
Greetings from Asbury Park!
I used to be a star athlete (football lineman) fifteen years and 50-pounds ago. Between marriage, kids, the job and life, I let myself get totally out of shape. I need to lose 50-pounds. I now have the time, the facility and the motivation to get back in the game. I can train five days a week for 60-minutes max. What would you suggest?
Kyle, Jersey Shore
You will have a lot of dormant muscle memory working in your favor. It is so much easier to attain what you once had as opposed to trying to attain something you never had. A once high-level athlete now out of shape can whip themselves into shape far easier and faster than someone who’s average. Cardio is critical. Cardio and diet are going to lean you out. First thing every day start your day off with a fasted cardio session. In your case, five days a week engage in a heart-pounding, sweat-producing cardio session before breakfast. The cardio needs to be paired up with a Parrillo nutritional game plan. Three food meals can be augmented with 2-3 supplement meals. Every 2-3 waking hours consume a Parrillo meal (a serving of lean protein, a serving of fiber carbs, a serving of natural starch carbs, doused with CapTri® C8 MCT) or consume a Parrillo supplement meal. A Parrillo shake with a tablespoon or two of CapTri® C8 MCT, along with a Parrillo Protein bar™ (or a handful of Parrillo Contest Cookies) makes a fantastic supplement meal. I would suggest starting off with three lifting sessions per week, no more than 30-minutes per session: day 1, legs; day 2, chest and triceps; 3. Back and biceps. Each week drive the training poundage up. Each week look to lose at least two pounds of bodyweight. Losing 20-pounds of fat while adding five pounds of muscle in ten short weeks will change your whole perspective on life. Nail it all down and you will blow some minds.
Why do you always talk up the old-time bodybuilders? These guys couldn’t place in the top 100 in 2019. The modern IFBB pro is bigger and more cut than at any time in the history of bodybuilding. The old school guys can’t hold a candle to the modern pros.
Bodybuilders establish their “greatness” in relation to the other physiques of their day. While John Grimek at his peak couldn’t win a local NPC amateur show in 2019, the physique he presented in 1936 was light years ahead of the rest of humanity. Bodybuilding greatness is determined by how far ahead of their contemporaries a bodybuilder is. In the 1960s, Bill Pearl and Reg Park were sporting 19-inch arms, calves and necks (the Grecian proportional ideal) this was at a time when a 16-inch arm was considered massive. Pearl weighed 230 in contest condition, Park 245, this at a time when their competitors were weighing 190. In 1966 Sergio Oliva was further ahead of the rest of the world than any bodybuilder in history has ever been, before or since. Sergio looked like a space alien, a new breed of human. No one is saying that Sergio has a better physique than Phil Heath, what we are saying is that Sergio was way, way, way further ahead of his competitors in his day than Phil is currently.
I was wondering, what is your take on Box Squats? This exercise seems to be all the rage in high schools in my area. Suddenly everyone is doing this strange exercise and claiming incredible benefits – what’s your take?
I hate them with a passion. Doing a box squat is a first-class ego-inflator with negligible benefits and a lot of real spinal danger. The allure is the amount of weight that can be handled. The depth of the box squat is always high – more like a half squat – none of the boxes I have ever seen have been set below parallel. Since the depth is shallow, the squatter can handle way more poundage than if they were forced to do a proper full squat below parallel. A man that would struggle with 225 for five reps, going low and deep, can handle 400-pounds for reps in the sky-high box squat. How wise is it to sit down on a box with a 400-pound barbell atop the spinal column? The spine gets bowed like a longbow. How can that be good? Spaced-out high school boys make terrible spotters when something goes wrong with a lift. Also note how box squatters have very little thigh development: partial reps produce partial results. Instead, why not build a legitimate, below parallel deep and powerful squat? The real secret to building big legs is to build a big squat, done deep! Ditch the dangerous, ineffective, ego-inflating box squat. It doesn’t build big legs and it doesn’t convert into any kind of usable athletic benefit.
How does one go about ‘building the metabolism’ – I am intrigued with this concept. If I understand it correctly, exercise and nutrition are expertly woven and combined to increase the BMR. I would imagine this might take some time. I suspect I have a sluggish metabolism and mine likely could use some boosting.
Sean, San Fran
One of the foundational Parrillo Principles is the idea that the metabolism can be systematically increased. The metabolism is like the thermostat in your home. On a cold day, you raise the thermostat and the mechanism ignites the fuel oil or natural gas; the higher the thermostat is set the more fuel that is burned. John Parrillo figured out that intense exercise spiked the metabolism. He also ascertained that certain foods spiked the metabolism. Exercise and food are used to elevate a sluggish metabolism all day long. If the bodybuilder stays “in the pocket,” tight on the diet, lifting hard, performing cardio consistently and intensely, the BMR elevates. Over time, it stays elevated. The key to maintaining a “built metabolism” is consistency: spike the metabolism with bodybuilding foods and supplements. Spike the metabolism with exercise done hard and often. You cannot be a part time bodybuilder and expect to successfully boost a sluggish metabolism.
What is the best way to bring up a weak chest? I am bottom-heavy with big legs, wide hips and a shallow chest. My triceps and front delts are well developed, but my upper and lower pecs are lacking. This is not a body fat issue: I routinely can get down to 8% for local competitions. I have never been much of a bencher, and I guess it shows.
This is a good problem to have. In 99% of the cases I come across, the bodybuilder is doing way too much chest work. I suspect that your well-developed triceps and front deltoids are preventing you from isolating the pecs. The best way to isolate the pecs is to perform dumbbell bench presses, lowering the bells all the way down and using a pause at the bottom. Make sure to lock out completely at the top of each rep. I would warm-up and then perform 2-3 sets in the 6-8 rep range using static poundage. Pair paused dumbbell bench presses with dumbbell incline presses, again 2-3 top sets using a pause. Finish with a high rep set or two, 12-15 reps, using the pec-dec. The flat-bench presses isolate the lower pecs and incline benches isolate the upper pecs. The pec-dec (or dumbbell flyes if lacking a pec-dec) provides upper and lower pec stimulation and does not activate the triceps. Three days later I would work up to a heavy set of 5-reps in the paused barbell bench press. Finish this workout with some overhead pressing. Jump on this pec specialization program and your lack of pecs will become a distant memory in a few short months.