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The Bodybuilding Lifestyle – The Parrillo approach is a unified and integrated system

By Duke Nukem

Bodybuilding has many components: Bodybuilding is a lot more than doing curls and bench presses. Bodybuilding is a lot more than lifting weights. Factually, the defining characteristic of bodybuilding is nutrition – yet nutrition alone is not enough. Nutrition alone is dieting. Aerobic training is an indispensable part of the bodybuilding process. Expert use of cardio is critical for attaining true leanness. However, while aerobic exercise is an indispensable part of the bodybuilding equation, cardio alone is insufficient. When constructing a bodybuilding regimen, all the elements need to be included, accounted for and synchronized. The Parrillo approach to bodybuilding uses highly defined strategies for nutrition, supplementation, resistance training and aerobic training. Bodybuilding requires continually overcoming sticking points and inertia within each of the three bodybuilding interconnected disciplines. The key to overcoming stagnation is having a large bag of training and nutritional strategies to pick from when progress stalls. When a proven-effective training or nutritional approach runs dry, put it back in storage and pull out another equally effective routine or regimen.  


Preplanning: Real bodybuilders understand the role of planning. The 2020 bodybuilder has a plan for lifting, a plan for cardio, a plan for nutrition and a plan for supplementation. That’s a lot of planning. All these plans are in play simultaneously. How does the bodybuilder keep it all straight and keep progress moving ahead? This is where logging and monitoring come in: all serious bodybuilders maintain a log for exercise and a log for nutrition. Monitoring is done with BodyStat, a system that pinpoints week-to-week changes in body composition. In-flight corrections, tweaks and adjustments are made during the process based on BodyStat results. The serious bodybuilder always has a goal and a plan for reaching the goal. In-season or out-of-season, the bodybuilder is always working towards a definable goal using a specific plan. Goals are set into a timeframe and worked towards. It all sounds complicated. The individual pieces are quite easy to grasp, it’s the stacking and combining of the disciplines that can become complex. John Parrillo created a system of bodybuilding that makes the complex understandable. 

Realistic goals? The first order of business is to create a goal, a physical goal, a bodybuilding goal. The idea is to go in one of two directions: add lean muscle mass or get ripped. An elite bodybuilder will swing back and forth between these two diametrically opposite goals. It is natural and beneficial to systematically alternate between these two opposites. What is more natural after a successful lean-out cycle, wherein you reduced your body fat percentile into single digits, than to crack back the other direction (while maximally lean and fit) and slowly and methodically consuming evermore quality calories to systematically build lean muscle mass? A plan needs to strike a balance: it needs to be realistic yet is also needs to be motivating. A guy with a 200-pound bench press and a 17% bodyfat percentile is being unrealistic it he thinks within one three-month cycle he is going to push his bench press up to 300 while whittling down to 7%. That’s a bridge too far. However, a realistic goal would be moving from a 200 to a 250-pound bench press while dropping from 17% down to a 12% body fat percentile. These would be reasonable and attainable. Realistic goals should be highly motivating – otherwise goals are delusional. Progress, in the Parrillo system, is always monitored. Each week adjustments and tweaks are made based on the objective feedback obtained from BodyStat readings.


Nutrition: What differentiates bodybuilding from other athletics is the degree of attention paid to nutrition. Elite bodybuilders will weigh their food in order to achieve a degree of accuracy and precision needed to whittle body fat down to the sub-5% levels required to be competitive at the highest levels. Even at the local level, bodybuilders are routinely hitting sub-10% body fat percentiles. It is no accident that the Parrillo Performance Package includes the Parrillo Nutritional Manual, BodyStat Kit and a food scale. John Parrillo feels it is critically important to establish consistency and accuracy. It takes time and practice to be able to “eyeball” a 250-gram portion of chicken breast, cod or lean beef. With time and repetition bodybuilder comes to know what 100 grams of oatmeal or rice looks like, or 200 grams of sweet potato. Portion exactitude is part of the Parrillo nutritional equation. Another critical aspect of bodybuilding nutritional element; the need to consume quality nutrients and clean calories. If you eat sweets, drink beer, eat pizza and stuff your face with chips, you are not a bodybuilder. If you are halfway serious, jettison empty calories: sugar, manmade carbs, fast food and alcohol. Establish a multiple meal eating schedule, clean up the content, sync the eating volume with the directional goal. Augment clean, quality eating with powerhouse Parrillo nutritional supplements.

Bodybuilding resistance training is unique: You will not find Parrillo-style, high-intensity, failure-and-beyond style weight training being taught at the local YMCA. John Parrillo doesn’t candy coat the cold truth: the surest way to grow muscle is to take the body up to – and past capacity. Unless the body is stressed to a dramatic degree, there is no physiological reason for the it to grow muscle. The body will not grow new muscle in response to stresses it can already handle. To grow muscle (as John Parrillo noted back in 1980) the bodybuilder needs to master ways to take the body past its current limits – safely and consistently. How is that done? John makes expert use of forced reps and drop sets as ways to work a muscle past capacity. If you are lucky enough to have a good training partner, the expert administration of forced reps can take your strength and physique to the next level. During a forced rep, the training partner provides enough help to keep the payload moving upward at an even rate – no stalling, no stopping, no going backwards. Drop sets are the perfect way to work past capacity when working alone. The procedure is the same regardless the exercise: push or pull a poundage until positive failure is reached. When you cannot do another rep, stop, reduce the poundage (a goodly amount) and immediately continue this extended set. Take the new poundage as far as you can, rep it out. Stop, make another significant payload reduction and rep to failure a third time. This is how to exhaust a targeted muscle when training all alone. Parrillo likes his bodybuilders to weight train 4-5 times a week. Only use forced reps and drop sets on the final set of an exercise. 


Aerobic exercise: Cardio exercise specifically tailored to enhance bodybuilding results is different from classical Ken Cooper-style aerobic training. The Parrillo approach towards cardio has several defining characteristics. Fasted cardio was a Parrillo innovation that got widespread traction in the wider bodybuilding community. The rationale was pure genius: engage in a high-intensity cardio session coming off 5-8 hours of sleep. Glycogen, emulsified carbohydrates, are at their low point after a long night of not eating. Wake up, have a coffee or tea and engage in a serious, high intensity aerobic session. You can go long and steady or use a burst or sprint protocol. Regardless, the protocol selected, push to your limits, that is where the optimal results reside. When glycogen is exhausted, the body begins burning its second favored fuel – stored body fat. Parrillo bodybuilders will hasten fat-burning by not eating starch carbs passed 5 pm the previous day. After the fasted cardio session, feel free to replenish with the clean carbs of your choice. All cardio benefits can be undone with bad eating. To optimize fat burning, fasted cardio is paired strict, precise eating.

Supplementation: Use impotent supplements and regardless your consistency and regularity, results will be subpar. Anemic supplements equate to anemic results. On the opposite end of the spectrum, quality supplements, potent supplements, the right ones taken in the right amounts at the right times, can and will add 15% to physical results. Supplements amplify and accelerate progress. Parrillo gained priceless empirical nutritional knowledge during his decades of preparing elite bodybuilders for competition. He discovered that in order to cope with the severity of the weight training and cardio, in order to trigger maximum results for hard-training athletes, lean protein intake need be, at a minimum, 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. The harder you train, the more protein you need. Powerhouse supplements make hitting daily protein goals so much easier. One Parrillo Optimized Whey™ shake and a one Parrillo Soft Chew bar™ will deliver a mind-blowing 56 grams of protein. Consuming supplemental protein after a high intensity progressive resistance session dramatically accelerates healing, recovery and growth. 


Monitoring the process: The Parrillo approach towards bodybuilding is heavily dependent on objective feedback. Too many bodybuilders are confined to the mirror, the bathroom scale and the subjective opinions of friends. In the Parrillo approach, the BodyStat Kit is used to access changes in body composition. Why fly blind? Have a spouse or training partner administer the 9-point skinfold caliper test and log results: each successive week you create an objective frame of reference: you have the mirror, the scale, and now you have BodyStat alerting you to increases or decreases in lean muscle mass. This is invaluable information for a bodybuilder to have. Now you know if the training and eating you’ve have been doing is having the desired effect. Are you adding lean muscle mass? Are you losing body fat? Are you staying the same? Now you know with certainty. BodyStat takes the guesswork and subjectivity out of decisions. Objective feedback tells us when to tighten up the nutrition, tweak the cardio or increase or decrease weight training frequency or intensity. To recap: understand that there are three separate and distinct disciplines (cardio, lifting, nutrition) that need realistic goals and sensible plans. Set the plan in motion and monitor results. The bodybuilding lifestyle is synonymous with the Parrillo approach. The elite bodybuilder follows where results lead – so should you.

2020-03-03T11:13:56-05:00 March 3rd, 2020|Parrillo Principles, The Press|

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