By Duke Nukem
The only constant in bodybuilding is stagnation. Progress is slow to arrive and quick to leave. The elite bodybuilder deals with stagnation every single day. To make the issue more complex, the bodybuilder can be making progress in one area while completely stalled in another area. The bodybuilder could be setting personal records in the bench press (and building massive pecs) while going backwards in his body fat percentile: what good is it to attain a 300-pound bench press if you add nine pounds of body fat during the process? At the other extreme, what good is it if you attain an 8% body fat percentile and lose nine pounds of hard-earned gym muscle during the process? Over-eating the wrong foods can make you stronger while making you fatter – all at the same time. Starvation dieting can make you leaner while burning down all your muscle – all at the same time. Progress can be a mixed bag. The bottom line is this: do not use methods that induce progress in one area at the expense of going backwards in another. Sure, you can add ten pounds of muscle by combining power training with bad eating, but an unacceptable amount of body fat is added in the process. Conversely, starvation keto diets will make you lean, but why cannibalize an unacceptable amount of hard-earned muscle mass? What are the best ways to overcome inertia without causing harm in other areas?
Set goals, establish plans: clear goals, highly defined goals, are an absolute must. You would be amazed how many trainees have no real plan of attack when they train. If they have any goals, the goals are fuzzy and indistinct, as in “I want to look better and feel healthier.” Fuzzy, indistinct goals create fuzzy, ineffective training methods. The casual trainer does not preplan, they show up and train as hard as they feel like, doing whatever they feel like. They eat the best they can each day, with varying degrees of success. Is it any wonder they get subpar results? Real bodybuilders always have a plan and they understand what is expected of them ahead of time. Successful bodybuilding begins with intelligent preplanning. A serious bodybuilder has precise goals and will know exactly where they are in relationship to the attainment of those goals. A precise goal would be, “My goal is to lose 15 pounds of body fat in ten weeks. I am four weeks into the leaning-out phase and have lost six pounds of body fat so far. I will shed 1.5 pounds of body fat each week for the next six weeks.” To do something this subtle, shed fat while retaining gym muscle, the smart bodybuilder must become an expert at tweaking the four “avenues of progress,” weight training, aerobics, nutrition and supplementation. All four elements need to augment and amplify one another. Each of the four bodybuilding subdivisions needs and deserves its own customized plan of attack. All four plans are launched and pursued simultaneously.
Log results: the serious bodybuilder preplans training and preplans nutrition. The serious bodybuilder logs the results and compiles data. He or she reviews results on a weekly basis, always looking to tweak the variables in order to trigger improvement. Logging allows a bodybuilder to track progress and identify the early onset of stagnation. In years gone by, every serious bodybuilder or strength athlete carried a small spiral notebook in their gym bag. After every set, after every drill, the athlete would dutifully write down what just happened. Nowadays the computer in our phones has replaced the spiral notebook. Compile data and learn how to interpret the data. Log the date, bodyweight, exercise, sets, reps, poundage; if it’s a cardio session identify the mode (what type? stationary bike? Treadmill?) duration and frequency. The ultimate logging system is the Parrillo BodyStat kit. Each week the bodybuilder using BodyStat undergoes a nine-point skinfold caliper test to determine changes in body composition. BodyStat enables the bodybuilder to determine if they have lost or gained body fat. Have they lost or gained muscle? Have they stayed the same? BodyStat measurements provide invaluable feedback and allow the bodybuilder to make the appropriate adjustments and tweaks in training and nutrition for the coming week. Hard data and proper analysis enable sensible course corrections. Week to week, BodyStat results are logged and compared. BodyStat takes the subjectivity out of bodybuilding and creates personalized data that allows the bodybuilder to make intelligent choices. BodyStat data is used to preplan the following week, making BodyStat the ultimate in both logging and preplanning.
Always start with nutrition: John Parrillo has said this so long and so often that it has become a bodybuilding cliché: if progress comes to a standstill, always start (making beneficial changes) with nutrition. Establish a specific body goal, set the goal into a timeframe, synchronize the goal with a nutritional approach that augments and amplifies the process. Food meals always form the backbone of Parrillo nutrition. The classical Parrillo meal consists of a portion of lean protein, a portion of fiber and a portion of complex starch carbs. Conventional dietary fat is switched out with MCTs, taken in the form of CapTri® C8 MCT, the potent liquified Parrillo MCT oil. A multiple meal eating schedule is established and powerful Parrillo supplements are used to amplify results by “filling in the cracks and crevices.” Supplement use is sculpted to enhance the goal: if the goal is to add lean muscle mass, heavy up on CapTri® C8 MCT, 50/50 Plus™, Hi-Protein Powder™, Muscle Amino Formula™, Liver Amino Formula™ and eat plenty of Parrillo Energy bars™. Conversely if the plan is to drop 20-pounds of body fat in time for the class reunion in 10 weeks, then a 2-pound a week reduction in bodyweight is required and a completely different supplemental lineup would be used: Advanced Lipotropic™, Ultimate Amino Formula™, Max Endurance Formula™, Optimized Whey Protein Powder™ and plenty of Parrillo Soft Chew bars™ would make a formidable fat-shedding supplement stack. There is no true bodybuilding without precision nutrition. Powerhouse bodybuilding foods are paired with powerhouse supplements to optimize training results. Get a goal. Figure out the nutritional approach that compliments the goal. When stagnation occurs, tighten up the nutrition!
Stop playing to your strengths! Re-apportion available training time: serious weight trainers often develop disproportional physiques. Because of exercise likes and dislikes, trainees will do too much of a favored exercise and too few exercises they dislike. Over the years, favored training creates symmetrical imbalances. A trainee with five years of serious training under their belt, someone that spends 90% of their training time on pecs, shoulders, arms and abs, will have a muscled-up front torso – sitting atop bird-legs and a missing-in-action back. In bodybuilding, too much of a good thing is a fatal mistake. Smart bodybuilders work the hell out of their weak points. Stop playing to your strengths: take a hard look at your physique and be critical. Unless you are Flex Wheeler or Sergio Oliva, you will have obvious and glaring weak points. As John Parrillo relates at seminars, “Concentrate on your weak points, the strong points will take care of themselves.” Switch things around so that the weak body parts are given the Lion’s share of training time. Learn to love exercises you hate. The hardest lesson in bodybuilding is to consistently concentrate on weak points. The payoff is a sensational change in your body, one that occurs quickly. Because the trainee has studiously avoided certain exercises and body parts, when those neglected exercises and body parts are suddenly spotlighted and highlighted (and trained as hard and often as they should be) these long neglected body parts respond like crazy and come up and come up quick!
Use technology: technology can be used in many ways to the bodybuilder’s advantage. One use: take a video recording of the top sets done in your weight training sessions. Review the video immediately after completing the set to spot technical flaws and make instant changes. No need for a training partner’s subjective opinion as to how they thought the set looked, see for yourself! This instant training feedback is invaluable if used in the right way. Technology can also be used to determine cardio intensity. Access how hard the heart is working in relation to the work being done. Measure and log cardio results, input cardio data and input weight training data, thus creating an electronic database of videos and logged entries. Use the phone to Google the nutritional breakdown of any food you happen to run across. Simply figure out the portion size and ask the oracle – what is the micro-nutrient breakdown for three ounces of flank steak? What is the protein and calorie count for a pound of raw shrimp? The phone can be used to keep running totals on calorie and micronutrient consumption as you make your way thru each day. Are you a competitive bodybuilder? If so, what a fantastic thing to be able to video your posing routine, be it straight bodybuilding or any of the modern subdivisions. See how your presentation comes across by reviewing the video. This is the perfect way in which to perfect physique presentation. There is so much more to modern tech than posting selfies or creating whacky Instagram ego-inflators.
Establish a training group: one surefire way to take performance and physique to the next level is to begin training with a group of like-minded bodybuilders. The classic Parrillo training group consists of 1-3 bodybuilders that all use the same training template: each in turn does the same exercise while the others watch, administer forced reps and spot. Nothing takes a person’s game to the next level like having others watch as they perform. The Parrillo three-part set strategy calls for a pump-up set followed immediately by a fascia stretch and concluding with a hard flexion of the just-pumped-and-stretched muscle. When a group of bodybuilders get the lift-stretch-pose rhythm down, the group attains a flow that is maximally beneficial and fascinating to watch. Group training is guaranteed to lift everyone’s performance and physique to the next level. No one texts, tweets or carries on irrelevant conversations during the training session. Everyone focuses on the workout. All the group members are dialed in as they spot, exhort each other and give each other muscle-expanding forced reps. An enthused group gathers multiple times a week and trains using an agreed-upon workout template. Another smart thing: once the workout is done, everyone drinks a communal double-serving of 50/50 Plus™ and washes down a handful of Parrillo Liver Amino Formula™ tablets along with Muscle Amino Formula™ capsules. The expert use of post-workout nutritional supplementation actually and factually improves results from the workout. The same workout without the post-workout supplementation would have significantly lesser results. Take advantage of the group dynamic: post a notice on the gym billboard; find a training partner or become part of an ongoing training group.